Twins get rematch with Lopez, who nearly threw a perfect game at them

Twins get rematch with Lopez, who nearly threw a perfect game at them

The Twins will get another crack at Royals righthander Jorge Lopez, who took a perfect game into the ninth inning at Target Field before giving up a run.

“I was impressed with how he got through that game in terms of really trusting his fastball command early in the game and getting some weak contact,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “Not revealing his pitches until the second and the third time through. And the fact that he commanded them all and kept us off balance in terms of just confidence in throwing different pitches in different counts and situations.”

Jake Cave is getting a crack at the No. 3 spot, as Molitor deals with players being unavailable and needing to give the slumping Logan Forsythe a break.

Mitch Garver and Miguel Sano took batting practice before the game. Garver is progressing well after taking a foul ball off the mask on Sunday. I asked if Sano could pinch hit, and Molitor thought it would be tempting to have him available to do that, but they want to take their time with the burly third baseman.

Twins

Joe Mauer, 1B
Jorge Polanco, SS
Jake Cave, CF
Robbie Grossman, LF
Max Kepler, RF
Willians Astudillo, C
Ehire Adrianza, 3B
Tyler Austin, DH
Gregorio Petit, 2B

Jose Berrios, RHP

Royals

Whit Merrifield, 2B
Aldalberto Mondesi, SS
Alex Gordon, LF
Salvy Perez, C
Hunter Dozier, 3B
Ryan O’Hearn, 1B
Jorge Bonifacio, RF
Brian Goodwin, CF
Rosell Herrera, DH

Jorge Lopez, RHP

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Twins great Joe Mauer says he'll consider retirement after 2018 season

Twins great Joe Mauer says he'll consider retirement after 2018 season

Joe Mauer is contemplating retirement at the end of the year, reports the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

The longtime Minnesota Twins first baseman and catcher told the Star-Tribune that he will think long and hard about retirement this offseason.

“There’s a lot that goes into it than just, ‘Do you want to play?'” Mauer told the Star-Tribune. “There’s a lot of different dynamics that go into it. I owe it to myself and my family to sit down and think about those things.

“It’s interesting. It’s a big decision, and I want to make sure I’m 100 percent about it.”

Mauer is currently in the final season of his eight-year, $184 million contract, batting .274 with six home runs and 43 RBI. The 35-year-old is a six-time All-Star and he has been with the Twins organization since they chose him as the first overall pick in the 2001 MLB June Amateur Draft. 

“We’ve had some moments,” Mauer said. “Regardless, this last home stand is going to be pretty emotional, when we come back. I’m already starting to feel a little bit like that.

At the time he signed the eight-year deal with Minnesota, Mauer was coming off an MVP season in which he led the league in batting, on-base percentage and slugging while playing Gold Glove defense as a catcher. Then in the 2010-11 offseason, Mauer required knee surgery and complications cost him half the 2011 season. But in 2012, Mauer made the All-Star team and once again led the league in on-base percentage while playing in 147 games. The Twins fixture then suffered another setback when in 2013 he was diagnosed with a concussion after he took foul tip off his catcher’s mask. 

The post-concussion symptoms plagued Mauer for years afterwards, and eventually prompted the Twins and Mauer to agree on moving to first base following the 2013 season, leaving behind what many thought to be a Hall of Fame career as a catcher.

Mauer has been a member of three division-winning teams and been to the postseason four times, mostly recently when the Twins earned the second American League wild-card spot last season. But he’s never been on the winning end of a playoff series.

According to the Star-Tribune, Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and GM Thad Levine have not approached Mauer about his plans and will let him take as much time as he needs to make a decision.

“Not knowing either way, what direction I’m going. It’s been a grind, a lot of things going on this year,” Mauer said. “And I’m just trying to enjoy it.”

Mitch Garver not showing any concussion symptoms so far

Mitch Garver not showing any concussion symptoms so far

– The Twins only need to look at who their first baseman is these days to understand what can happen when a foul ball strikes a catcher in the facemask.

So they are relieved that Mitch Garver has shown no concussion symptoms after leaving Wednesday’s game in the second inning after Luke Voit’s foul ball found him. Garver was not in the lineup on Thursday; Chris Gimenez started behind the plate.

The plan for Thursday was for Garver to focus on cardio work and not swing a bat.

Twins report: Garver sits after taking foul tip to the facemask

Twins report: Garver sits after taking foul tip to the facemask

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Twins catcher Mitch Garver woke up with a headache but said he feels better a day after taking a foul tip off his facemask.

The team removed Garver in the third inning of Wednesday’s win over the New York Yankees as a precaution, and he wasn’t in the lineup Thursday night for the series opener against the Royals.

Garver passed his initial concussion protocols, but he understands the Twins’ use of caution.

As most catchers do, Garver has taken many foul tips off his mask, and he has a concussion history from earlier in his career.

Garver avoided a concussion in April after being struck in the head on a backswing, and he hopes his luck is repeating. The Twins are sensitive to concussions because of Joe Mauer’s history.

“There’s a very thin line between feeling good enough to play and being dangerously shaken up,” Garver said. “Everybody who plays the position has a history of it, whether they’ve actually been diagnosed with a concussion or not. It’s part of the position. It’s one of the job hazards.”

Garver said he wasn’t sure if his headache was related to the foul ball — it also could have been from the late flight from Minnesota or an early morning wake-up — but the Twins will continue to watch him closely for symptoms, which can present in the days after the trauma occurs.

“It’s frustrating because I took a lot of pride this year in staying healthy and off the DL,” Garver said. “I wanted to go a full major league season being healthy, being a guy that Molly could count on. For this to happen, it’s disappointing. But I understand that it’s a precaution we have to take.”

Twins manager Paul Molitor said Garver would be limited to cardio work for the time being. Chris Gimenez started at catcher against Kansas City.

In his first full major league season, Garver is batting .260 with a .734 OPS and seven homers in 325 plate appearances.

EASY EDDIE

Eddie Rosario said he’s being sensible about running the bases to protect his sore left quad, which he injured Sunday.

He’s limited to DH right now and batted second in the series opener at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals home park is known for its huge outfield pasture, and dimensions that favor triples. Rosario led the league in triples as a rookie and has 21 for his career.

Rosario said he would prefer to play defense again, but it might not happen until the Twins leave KC.

“I’m too young to be a DH, but right now it’s the only thing I’m able to do in the game,” said Rosario, who turns 27 on Sept. 28.

SANO GETS CLOSER

Molitor said Miguel Sano took grounders and was to hit in the cage, but wasn’t a consideration for game action.

Sano injured his left leg stealing a base Sept. 4 and has been sidelined since. Molitor said he has been burned before by placing a timetable on Sano’s return from an injury, so he’s not going to do it again.

“We don’t know if he’ll play this weekend or not,” Molitor said.

WATCH HIM GO

The mad dash of Willians Astudillo was still a topic of conversation in the clubhouse, with teammate Robbie Grossman making fun of how many page views he was getting.

His muscular arms pumping, his stocky legs churning and his curly locks flowing, Astudillo motored home from first base on a double by Max Kepler on Wednesday — and fans online have breathlessly watched the replay by the hundreds of thousands ever since.

“I was kind of nervous he wasn’t going to make it, because that’s a long way for him to run,” Molitor half-joked. “Everything he does on the field, you have to pay attention, because it’s probably going to be unique because of what he can bring. I don’t know if it’s because of his personality, or body type, or a combination of other factors, but it’s been something.”

Listed at 5-foot-9 and 225 pounds, Astudillo has been a hit as a 26-year-old rookie, playing six positions — including an inning at pitcher — while batting .292 with three homers and a .511 slugging percentage in 48 plate appearances.

“He’s a good guy — he’s short, but I love him,” Rosario said. “He’s like Eduardo Escobar, his personality and how he plays all over the field.”

Why Joe Mauer won't retire

Why Joe Mauer won't retire

Harmon Killebrew, Kansas City Royals designated hitter, out stealing in the second inning of American League baseball game with the Boston Red Sox on Thursday, July 17, 1975 at Fenway Park in Boston. AP /PRS

Among my sadder boyhood baseball memories is seeing Harmon Killebrew in a Kansas City Royals uniform.

It never should have happened. He’d earned the right to go out with the Twins on his terms, but those were dark days for common sense in the Minnesota Twins front office.

Joe Mauer isn’t going to make that mistake and anyone who’s paid any attention to Mauer over the years knows it. So the news today that Mauer will consider retiring at the end of the year makes sense, even though I don’t think he will because the Minnesota Twins are too smart to let him.

AP Photo/Jim Mone/File

Mauer is a St. Paul kid who never disgraced his hometown nor the team he played for. He has two young twin daughters and another child on the way, he’s got all the money he needs, and he’s still a (slightly) better than average player at his position.

I’m betting he signs a contract that won’t embarrass him, which will still free up a ton of money for the Twins to invest in improving a bad ball club, allow him to be home with his family for at least half the season, and still give him the chance to play a game he seems to love in a city that loves him right back. Good deal for everyone.

Here’s my take, which aired on All Things Considered this afternoon.

Here’s an interesting side note. Over the years, I’ve used Bill James’ old Brock2 formula spreadsheet (which I built using his formula), which for awhile was a pretty good way to predict the future.

When I wrote this article in 2013 — “If he doesn’t hit for more power, Mauer will be an average first baseman” — it included a prediction for each of his projected following years.

How did this five-year-old prediction for this season work out? It predicted he’d hit .284. He’s hit .274 with a few weeks to go in the season. It said he’d hit 6 home runs. He’s hit 6 home runs. It said he’d hit one triple. He’s hit one triple. It said he’d score 51 runs. He’s scored 47 so far. It said he’d have 52 runs batted in. He’s got 43.

RBI, by the way, is more reflective of the people batting in front of a player than it is the hitter. So, that’s at least a push.

It also predicted he’d be a very good player, until at least 2021. And there doesn’t look to be anybody coming up through the system at the moment who’s better than he is.

It’s worth keeping him around.

Mauer considers retirement as Twins face Royals

Mauer considers retirement as Twins face Royals

Joe Mauer has been the face of the Minnesota Twins for most of the century.

Mauer, a native of St. Paul who attended Cretin-Derham Hall High School, was the No. 1 overall pick of the 2001 draft and made his big league debut three years later, quickly establishing himself as the hometown hero and one of the best players in baseball.

Now, though, at age 35, Mauer admits the end may be drawing near. Twenty-four hours after hitting his fifth career grand slam Tuesday, Mauer told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that he’s considered retiring after this season — the last under an eight-year, $184 million contract he signed after the 2010 season.

A .306 hitter over the course of a career that’s included six All-Star berths, three Gold Gloves and the 2009 AL MVP award, Mauer is batting .272 this season with six home runs and 43 RBIs. But he’s missed time this season with the third concussion of his career, and he and his wife are expecting their third child later this fall.

“There’s a lot that goes into it than just, ‘Do you want to play?'” Mauer told the newspaper. “There’s a lot of different dynamics that go into it. I owe it to myself and my family to sit down and think about those things.

“It’s interesting. It’s a big decision, and I want to make sure I’m 100 percent about it.”

That conversation, though, will have to wait. Mauer is hoping to finish out the season strong, starting Thursday night when the Twins open a four-game series at Kansas City.

“Not knowing either way, what direction I’m going. It’s been a grind, a lot of things going on this year,” Mauer said. “And I’m just trying to enjoy it.”

Stephen Gonsalves (0-2) gets the start for Minnesota in the series opener and another chance to make a good impression on the Twins coaching staff.

The 24-year-old rookie left-hander has an 11.68 ERA through four big league starts and couldn’t get out of the third inning his last time out, when the Royals tagged him for five runs over 2 1/3 innings Friday.

“Stephen’s still having trouble showing enough command with his pitches to give him a chance to be a little bit more successful,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “The extra baserunners and some mistakes — getting behind kind of caught up with him there, so we couldn’t go too long.”

Gonsalves was Minnesota’s No. 5 prospect when he was called up to the big leagues last month.

“I’ve been battling with my fastball,” Gonsalves said. “It’s just cutting on me and I’ve been inconsistent with it. I’ve been working with (pitching coach) Garvin (Alston) on something new every week. My mind has been more on mechanics than competing and I had that struggle early this year with my mechanics all out of whack. It’s kind of revolving back to that a little bit and I’m kind of searching for myself.”

Heath Fillmyer, Kansas City’s scheduled Thursday starter, struggled in his last outing, which came against Gonsalves and the Twins on Friday. Fillmyer (2-1, 4.75 ERA) lasted 2 1/3 innings and allowed six runs on six hits.

He has started two games against the Twins this season and is fortunate to be 0-0 after giving up nine runs and 11 hits over 5 1/3 innings.