Mauer Will Move to First Base after Suffering Concussion in ‘13

Six Time All-Star Catcher Makes Dec­sion to Move Out From Behind the Plate

After suf­fer­ing a con­cus­sion fol­low­ing a foul tip to his mask in an August 19 game against the Mets, Min­nesota Twins six time All-Star catcher Joe Mauer will move out from behind the plate in 2014 and will become the Twins’ start­ing first base­men. The move was announced via a con­fer­ence call Mon­day with Mauer and Twins GM Terry Ryan.

Mauer and Ryan con­sulted team doc­tors and doc­tors at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. who advised the 2009 AL MVP against catching.

They told me if I were to receive another blow or a con­cus­sion, that the recov­ery time would be as long or even longer,” said Mauer in the con­fer­ence call.

Mauer, 30, came up with the Twins in 2004 and became the full time starter in 2005. The No. 1 over­all pick by the Twins in the 2001. The St. Paul, Minn. Native is a career .323 hit­ter. Mauer has been given the dis­tinc­tion of being the first catcher in major league his­tory to win a league bat­ting title when he hit .347 in 2006. Mauer has a total of three bat­ting titles with back to back bat­ting crowns in 2008 and 2009. He hit .365 in 2009, the high­est aver­age of his career and the sec­ond high­est in fran­chise history.

The move fills a hole in the Twins off­sea­son list of needs, but now opens up a major hole at a posi­tion that’s pos­si­bly been the most sta­ble for the Twins in the last decade. The move also all but rules out a pos­si­ble return for for­mer Twins first base­man Justin Morneau. The Twins dealt Morneau to the Pirates on August 31.

First base made a lot of sense,” said Ryan. “He’s played there and he’s a nice tar­get, and he’s got good hands and he’s got good feet.”

So who will fill that hole for the Twins? Among sev­eral in-house options for the Twins there are a poten­tial intrigu­ing free agent options. As far as in-house options the guy who has been most talked about has been top prospect Jos­mil Pinto. Pinto played in 21 games for the Twins as a Sep­tem­ber call-up. Pinto hit .342 with four homers and drove in 12 runs. Another option is Ryan Doumit. Doumit has also had issues with con­cus­sions in the past. Doumit has said he is plan­ning catch­ing again in 2014 despite not catch­ing at all in Sep­tem­ber. Other names the Twins have on their ros­ter are Chris Her­mann and Eric Fryer

The Twins could opt to go the route of free agency. An option the Twins could pur­sue is Jar­rod Salta­la­mac­chia. The 28-year-old catcher was a mem­ber of the World Series Cham­pion Boston Red Sox. He hit .273 with the Red Sox, hit 14 home runs and drove in 65 runs.

Another option is Phillies catcher Car­los Ruiz who played in 92 games for the Phillies in 2013. Ruiz how­ever seems to fig­ure in as a part of the Phillies plans in 2014.

Another catcher who would make sense for the Twins is for­mer catcher A.J. Pierzyn­ski. A Twin from 1998–2003, Pierzyn­ski could pro­vide insur­ance and depth on the bench for the Twins if they decide to make Pinto their start­ing catcher. Pierzyn­ski has proven he can hit at the major league level and is famil­iar with the orga­ni­za­tion. He is a durable catcher who has spent rel­a­tively lit­tle time on the dis­abled list in his career.

It was a tough deci­sion because I love catch­ing and it’s some­thing I’ve worked hard at my whole life to become the best catcher I could be,” said Mauer. “So I’m a lit­tle dis­ap­pointed my catch­ing career had to end like this”.

 

 

 

 

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