Report From The Fort: Joe Mauer Will Give Up Hitting When You Pry The Bat From His Cold Dead Hand
Image courtesy of © Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY SportsIn the course of a five-minute conversation surrounding his future with the Twins, Mauer mentioned his love for “competing” three different times. Lest we forget, this is a guy who wanted to play point guard in basketball, quarterback in football and fought to stay at catcher in baseball. Those three positions in those three sports have something in common: they’re the position where the focus is on helping teammates, helping the team, win.
Mauer is not fiery. He is not a good quote. He says “heck” non-ironically. In a state that is football-oriented, we might prefer a little more of a bloodthirsty demeanor. But if you think that calmness means he doesn’t want to beat you, you’re not paying attention.
“Because once seven o’clock or one o’clock hits, that’s what it’s all about,” Mauer says. “Stepping in the box. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of that feeling. Stepping in against a big league pitcher. Trying to help your team win that day.”
This year will be the last year of Mauer’s mega-contract extension he signed with the Twins as they moved into their new ballpark in 2010. Mauer signed another extension before that, so this will be his first “contract year,” the year before a player becomes a free agent. It doesn’t sound like that lends itself any urgency.
“I never really get too far ahead of myself," says Mauer. "Like any other year, I look forward to enjoying the heck out of this one.”
There it is. That milquetoast demeanor is one of the reasons fans might expect Mauer to walk away from the game at the end of his contract. But it doesn’t sound like he’s in any hurry to walk despite all the changes he has been through.
“I’m a much different person than I was seventeen years ago," he says. "I’ve got a family. I’ve got my girls. There’s a lot of things going on. But one thing that hasn’t changed is I still love going out there and competing.”
Which is where the extra work comes in. It’s a pain, but you probably already know why he goes through all the “little things.”
“Take care of yourself. Try to eat right. Try to get in there and be ready for the next day," he says. "Do a lot of stretching. A lot of lifting. Spend a lot of time in the training room and in the weight room to make sure my body is ready to go not just for that day, but for the days to come.
Everybody in here has to do a little something. And our older guys seem to have to do a little bit more. It’s a process. But like I said, once seven o’clock and one o’clock hit, it’s all worth it.”
Mauer is 34 years old and has spent his entire adult life with one organization. At the end of this season, he will be a free agent. He may return to the Twins or he may choose to go somewhere else. But don’t expect him to be happily riding into a sunset.
“Coming in this spring, I drive in the first day and I was like ‘This is my seventeenth year of doing this, of coming to big league camp.’ You can think about it that way,” reflects Mauer. “But like I said, I just enjoy coming to the ballpark and competing and playing. I look forward to that every day.”
Don't forget you can get lots more from spring training by listening to our 15-minute audio wrapup. You can even ask your own question for tomorrow's show here.
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