Joe Mauer’s Triumphant Return to the Minnesota Twins

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Joe Mauer

It was fitting that Joe Mauer knocked in a runner with a single during his first plate appearance on Friday after coming back from bilateral leg weakness. It was a story book beginning for the Minnesota Twin who is head and shoulders above the rest.

Okay, I’ll stop.

The club jumped out to a six to one lead against the Padres on Friday before having to hang on, only winning by one run. Matt Capps picked up his tenth save in the process. Mauer isn’t the only notable player returning to the line-up.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka is also active, after a prolonged absence with a fractured left fibula. He missed fifty nine games creating a gigantic void in the middle infield. Last year Nishioka played in all one hundred forty four games in Japan while leading his team to the title. He must have recovered one hundred percent from this injury because manager Ron Gardenhire has moved him to the more demanding defensive position of shortstop. I am sure that the hot bat of second baseman Alexi Casilla had something to do with the choice as well.

Some pundits on the talk radio dial have been saying that inter-league play is tiresome unless there’s a built in rivalry like in Chicago, New York, or the bay area. The series against the Padres does however provide an opportunity for a reunion with some former Twins. Padres middle infielders Jason Bartlett and Orlando Hudson were productive players in Minnesota. The latter is coming off an injury, but you know that he won’t be shy about reacquainting with his former mates.

Outfielder Ben Revere has taken over the vocal role in the clubhouse with his rise to prominence. In a case of ineptitude, his diving catch in the early innings Friday was ruled a trap. The call didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things because the play still resulted in a fielder’s choice, but a man should get credit for a tremendous defensive play when he sacrifices his belt in the process.

Not everything is coming up roses for the Twins. The disabled list is still bursting at the seams with: Jim Thome, Denard Span, Jason Kubel, and Justin Morneau. Kubel’s sprained left foot and D Span’s concussion should keep them out of the line-up another week at least. The team has heated up without them though due to some timely hitting by the likes of Delmon Young. The former overall first pick is looking to revert to his form from last season-when he finished in the top ten in American League MVP voting.

Versatility has always been a strong suit for Michael Cuddyer. He has increased his average markedly in recent games. The additions to the batting order should provide more opportunities to drive in runs and more holes to hit through in the infield. The runners on base will be a tremendous advantage for a hitter like Cuddyer-who can hit the ball with authority to all fields. He does reportedly have the only Twins home run to the opposite field at the new stadium.

–Patrick Herbert

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