Ron Gardenhire discusses Joe Mauer's decision
by, 11-12-2013 at 03:31 PM (505 Views)
The Twins surprised everyone yesterday but announcing that Joe Mauer has made the decision to relocate to first base after spending his career as one of the game’s best two-way catchers.
Comments from Twins general manager Terry Ryan in October made it clear that the team was not totally anticipating Mauer’s move as they entered the planning season for 2014. In his address to the media yesterday, Mauer mentioned that there were occasions that he would take a foul tip and it extremely difficult for him to perform, even mentioning at one point that he had troubles feeling his hands gripping the bat after suffering his concussion.
The move early in the offseason will allow the front office to address the issues that arise, namely finding another catcher. On MLBNetwork Radio’s Power Alley yesterday manager Ron Gardenhire shared his thoughts on the decision.
In regards to how the decision was made:
On how Joe Mauer was handling this:“It was always talked about, you know, because of the concussion thing and injuries and that catchers take a beating like that and how valuable he is to the organization but ultimately you come down and you talk to the player and he talks with his family and a lot of decisions are made around with what is right for the organization and Joe and, you know what, Joe decided that he liked to do this, he wanted to make this move and we are happy with that. Our number one goal is to get him into the ballgame and keep him in there and with some of the injuries that catchers have been coming up with lately this is a good move for our organization just for the fact that we might be able to keep him on the field a little bit more.”
On Mauer’s ability to play first base:“I haven’t honestly talked to Joe other than when he won the Silver Slugger. I fired him a text – as we all do now – and told him congratulations and asked him how the kids were doing. Terry [Ryan] had been in conversation with him at the end of the season and Terry said he was going to sit down and talk with Joe and Joe talked to his family, Terry threw it at him and wanted his thoughts on it and now Joe came back and said I think that is the right thing to do. You got to understand, Joe loves catching. He’s always loved being a catcher, he loves running the ballgame back there and there’s not a better one around as far as offense, defense, the whole package. He understands how valuable he is to have him on the field and how much we miss him. This is a good thing; this is a guy who is kind of swallowing his pride a little bit as far as catching goes and saying I want to play first base and I need to be on the field for this baseball team and that’s pretty unselfish of him.”
On who will replace Mauer behind the plate:“I’ll just put it this way, it’s not that easy. He makes it look pretty easy. He’s got long arms, long legs and he can reach out and pick balls. You know what, he’ll get better and better but he’s pretty doggone good as he’s got really soft hands and he learned the cuts offs and relays. Being able to have Justin [Morneau] over there and helping him through the ropes for the time that he did play over there was huge with Mornie – helping him out and going through it and talking through different things. He’s pretty polished over there, he’s just a great athlete and he can handle so many different things you can throw at him, like I said, we’re lucky to have the guy. This is a big move for the organization, he’s an all-star catcher and he’s going to step over and play first base.”
“We’ve got options. We’ve got some in-house candidates with [Ryan] Doumit and [Josmil] Pinto, who you saw at the end of the year, we’ve got some pretty nice looking players and there’s free agents out there, there’s no doubt. We’re going to look and see what the best fit is and what works. You got to remember that Doumit has gone through some concussion things too so we’re definitely going to watch that situation closely here. We’re going to find a good catcher to step in there. Like I said, Pinto at the end, whether he’s ready to do this full time or not, I’m not positive, but he’s a nice looking young kid. So we have some options, now it’s just we are going to make the decisions on which way to go here. And if you need to get together, I’ve been talking with Terry off and on pretty much every two or three days and now we have a little bit better direction here, with Mauer’s decisions being made, now we know what we need to go do and what we can look for and what holes we need to fill, that’s one less of them, and one more with the catcher’s situation.”