If not Joe Mauer, then who plays first base for the Twins?

If not Joe Mauer, then who plays first base for the Twins?

Less than two weeks ago, Joe Mauer patted his heart dozens of times and did a poor job of fighting back tears as he received ovation after ovation in what might have been (could have been? was?) the final game of his career.

As he contemplates ending a 15-year career, we’re all left contemplating something else: If Mauer does retire, who in the heck is going to play first base for the Twins next season? It’s a question the Twins have not had to consider often.

Doug Mientkiewicz, the defensive whiz, arrived in 1999, sharing the job with Ron Coomer. Mientkiewicz was demoted in 2000 but came back up 2001 and held the position until he was traded to Boston in 2004, paving the way for Justin Morneau. The power-hitting MVP manned first base until he was traded to Pittsburgh in 2013. Chris Colabello, Chris Parmelee and friends filled in at first base the rest of that season. Then, after suffering a concussion that year, Mauer moved from catcher to first base in 2014.

The Twins let Joe Mauer play catcher one last time in possibly the final game of his career

The Twins let Joe Mauer play catcher one last time in possibly the final game of his career

Joe Mauer had a special moment in Minnesota on Sunday. (AP Photo)

If this really was the final game of Joe Mauer’s exemplary career, it’s tough to imagine a better ending.

The 35-year-old Mauer’s contract with the Minnesota Twins will run out after this season, which has reportedly led to Mauer seriously considering retirement this offseason. There’s still a chance Mauer could return for the 2020 season, but it sure looks like the player and team treated Sunday like his ride into the sunset.

If Mauer will indeed hang up his cleats this offseason, he will post a .282/.351/.379 line with six homers in his final season and a .306/.388/.439 with 2,122 hits and the 2009 MVP award in his 15-year MLB career. A St. Paul drafted and developed by his local Twins organization, Mauer holds a special place in Twins history as both a beloved hometown hero and one of the best hitters to ever play the catcher position.

That bat flashed in Mauer’s final plate appearance Sunday, when he hit an opposite-field double in the seventh inning.

Joe Mauer’s possible final hit

That right there would have worked fine for a final on-field moment for Mauer, but then the Twins came up with something even more touching.

A catcher his entire career, Mauer hadn’t played his home position since 2013 due to repeated concussion issues. It was a terrible development for both Mauer and a Twins team that had to move him to a full time first-baseman/designated hitter.

In the ninth inning, Mauer got play catcher one last time.

Joe Mauer finally returns to catcher

Once the game, and possibly Mauer’s career, was over, the veteran got to embrace his children on the field in an emotional moment.

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The Twins let Joe Maher play catcher one last time in possibly the final game of his career

The Twins let Joe Maher play catcher one last time in possibly the final game of his career

Joe Mauer had a special moment in Minnesota on Sunday. (AP Photo)

If this really was the final game of Joe Mauer’s exemplary career, it’s tough to imagine a better ending.

The 35-year-old Mauer’s contract with the Minnesota Twins will run out after this season, which has reportedly led to Mauer seriously considering retirement this offseason. There’s still a chance Mauer could return for the 2020 season, but it sure looks like the player and team treated Sunday like his ride into the sunset.

If Mauer will indeed hang up his cleats this offseason, he will post a .282/.351/.379 line with six homers in his final season and a .306/.388/.439 with 2,122 hits and the 2009 MVP award in his 15-year MLB career. A St. Paul drafted and developed by his local Twins organization, Mauer holds a special place in Twins history as both a beloved hometown hero and one of the best hitters to ever play the catcher position.

That bat flashed in Mauer’s final plate appearance Sunday, when he hit an opposite-field double in the seventh inning.

Joe Mauer’s possible final hit

That right there would have worked fine for a final on-field moment for Mauer, but then the Twins came up with something even more touching.

A catcher his entire career, Mauer hadn’t played his home position since 2013 due to repeated concussion issues. It was a terrible development for both Mauer and a Twins team that had to move him to a full time first-baseman/designated hitter.

In the ninth inning, Mauer got play catcher one last time.

Joe Mauer finally returns to catcher

Once the game, and possibly Mauer’s career, was over, the veteran got to embrace his children on the field in an emotional moment.

More from Yahoo Sports:
Pete Thamel: One awful play ended Penn State’s party vs. Ohio State
Meet the coach who cut Brett Kavanaugh
Europe thrashes USA in Ryder Cup
Baltimore’s $161M player finishes with worst batting average ever

Mauer doubles, catches in emotional likely finale with Twins

Mauer doubles, catches in emotional likely finale with Twins

View photos

Minnesota Twins’ Joe Mauer, the subject of retirement talk, is accompanied at first base by his twin daughters during a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Joe Mauer received one more pitch as catcher for the Twins, and Minnesota likely said goodbye to the longtime face of its franchise during an emotional 5-4 win over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday.

The 35-year-old Mauer was playing the final game of an eight-year, $184 million contract. He doubled into the left-center gap with a line drive of Juan Minaya in his final at-bat.

The 2009 AL MVP then made a surprise appearance behind the plate in the ninth, his first time catching in a game since Aug. 19, 2013. He caught one pitch from Matt Belisle, then walked off to a final standing ovation and was replaced by Chris Gimenez.

Mauer is a three-time AL batting champ and six-time All-Star over 15 major league seasons, all with Minnesota. A three-sport star from St. Paul’s Cretin-Derham Hall High School, Mauer was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2001 draft and made his debut with the Twins in 2004.

Max Kepler and Jake Cave homered for the Twins, and reliever Andrew Vasquez (1-0) earned the victory for the Twins with one perfect inning of relief. Trevor May replaced Belisle and got three straight outs with the tying run on second in the ninth to earn his third save.

The White Sox lost their 100th game of the year, the first time they’ve done so since 1970. Meanwhile, the Twins won their sixth straight game to end the season, giving them 78 victories – seven fewer than last year, when they were the AL’s second wild card.

Dylan Covey (5-14) gave up five runs over six innings.

Kepler hit a two-run home, his 20th of the season, onto the plaza in right field in the sixth.

WHIFF WATCH

White Sox second baseman Yoan Moncada struck out once, giving him a major league-leading 217. That’s just six behind the record of 223, set by Mark Reynolds of the Rockies in 2009.

MAUER MOMENTS

The day was filled with memorable moments for Mauer, who started at first base and batted leadoff. For Sunday home games, each Twins player is joined at his position by a young fan for the national anthem. On Sunday, Mauer’s 5-year-old twin daughters, Emily and Maren, surprised him by running out to meet him at first base.

The crowd of 30,144 gave Mauer an extended standing ovation before his first at-bat. He then shook hands with umpire Jim Reynolds and White Sox catcher Wellington Castillo before facing Covey.

BY THE NUMBERS

If Mauer retires after this season, he will finish second in Twins history in games played, third in runs scored, second in hits, first in doubles, and second in walks. He broke the Twins’ career record for times on base earlier in the homestand.

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/tag/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Mauer makes an emotion appearance as Twins catcher in final game of season

Mauer makes an emotion appearance as Twins catcher in final game of season

Joe Mauer lined a vintage opposite-field double into the left-center field Sunday, then donned the catcher’s gear that made him a legend and crouched behind the plate. Matt Belisle threw one pitch, Mauer caught it, jogged to the mound and hugged his pitcher, then walked to the dugout and into Minnesota Twins history.

Minnesota finished off a season-ending sweep of the White Sox with a 5-4 victory on Sunday, to finish with a 78-84 record, but few will remember Jake Cave’s and Max Kepler’s home runs, or Trevor May earning a save in the season finale. But who among the 30,144 at Target Field will ever forget the series of standing ovations or the emotion of what certainly felt like the final day that Joe Mauer will play Major League Baseball for his hometown team?

From the moment that his 5-year-old daughters, Maren and Emily, stood with him at first base for the national anthem, to the final curtain call while wearing a chest protector and carrying a catcher’s mask once more, a disappointing 2018 season for the Twins saved its best memories for the finish.

Twins, White Sox close out lackluster seasons

Twins, White Sox close out lackluster seasons

Sunday marks the end of what has been a disappointing season for the Minnesota Twins.

A surprise playoff participant a year ago, the Twins will be watching from their couches this October. That includes Joe Mauer, who will retreat to his home in St. Paul after Sunday’s finale and contemplate his future.

The three-time American League batting champion and six-time All-Star becomes a free agent this fall when the eight-year, $184 million contract he signed with his hometown team expires. Sunday could mark his final appearance in a Twins uniform … or in a baseball uniform in general.

He told reporters last month that retirement was something he’d consider, but not until after the season. He has given no hints since and the Twins did not plan any ceremonies to mark his 15-year career during their final homestand of the season.

Now, though, there is a definite chance that the end is near.

“The end of the season sneaks up on you,” Mauer said. “Here we are, in the last weekend. I’m just trying to enjoy it.”

Mauer was not in manager Paul Molitor’s lineup Saturday night when the Twins beat the Chicago White Sox 8-3, but he will start at first base Sunday afternoon.

If this is the end of his run, he’s going out on a high note. He’s batting .365 with nine RBIs in his last 16 games and will carry an eight-game hitting streak into the season finale.

“It doesn’t surprise me,” Molitor said. “We’re all pulling for him to have a good finish to this year. He’s putting together a nice homestand. I think he’s really relishing just the response and the fans. You soak it in — even if you’re contemplating what lies ahead. Just to kind of pause and take pictures of each day you’re playing the game.”

Right-hander Zack Littell (0-2, 6.61 ERA) gets the start for Minnesota. It will be the second career start and seventh career appearance for Littell, who threw two scoreless innings of relief last Saturday against the A’s.

He lasted just three innings in his only previous start, allowing six runs, six hits and four walks in a 6-3 loss to the White Sox on June 4.

“Obviously, the results weren’t there, but it was one of the more fun nights of my life,” Littell said. “I got to live out my dream. And that was awesome. I didn’t pitch the way I wanted to, but the experience was incredible.”

The White Sox turn to right-hander Dylan Covey (5-13, 5.06) for the series finale. He has not allowed a run in his last two starts, both of them six-inning efforts against American League Central champion Cleveland, while striking out 12 with just four walks.

“That was definitely a big confidence-booster for me,” Covey said after dueling Indians’ ace Corey Kluber in his last outing. “I’ve known all year that I have the stuff; it’s just trying to find that consistency with it.”

Consistency has been an issue for the 27-year-old in his second big league season. He went 4-10 with a 5.87 ERA in 17 starts before White Sox manager Rick Renteria moved him to the bullpen in late August. Covey posted a 2.25 ERA in five relief appearances and was put back in the rotation Sept. 11, when he was tagged for five runs in 4 1/3 innings of a loss to the Royals before looking dominant against the Indians.

“These last couple of starts felt really good,” Covey said. “I got one more start to try to finish off the year strong, and we’ll see what happens.”

Covey is 0-1 with a 4.26 ERA in three games — one start — versus the Twins.