Mauer takes grounders at 1B (Game 77 vs Dodgers)
MINNEAPOLIS — Joe Mauer fielded ground balls before today’s game against the Dodgers, but is starting at catcher and batting third with Luke Hughes getting the start at first.
Mauer, who hasn’t played first base since playing one game there in 2003 with Class A Fort Myers, is trying to learn the position to help out with spot duty, as the Twins will be without Justin Morneau until at least mid-August because he’s having neck surgery on Wednesday.
“I know I can do it,” said Mauer, who played 13 games at first in ’02 with Class A Quad Cities. “It’s just obviously this is the big league level. It’s just not an overnight thing. You can’t just say you have a good idea of how to play first and just go out there. But I’m going to do everything I can to try to get ready as quick as I can.”
Mauer added he’d play “first or third or left or pitch” to help the team, and said that although he wants to be the club’s primary catcher, he thinks mixing in some first base could be a good thing for the team and even his career.
“I think so,” Mauer said. “I’ve never been opposed to it. I think that’s where people get mixed up. They think I’m just stubborn and want to catch, and that’s it. But that’s not the case.”
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Mauer “looked tall” at first base, but added he was happy to see him taking grounders there before the game. But he offered no hints on when Mauer would get his first start at first base.
“I have no timetable,” Gardenhire said. “This isn’t about a timetable. It’s about him taking ground balls and getting the glove and just taking some throws. And once we get to a point where we’re comfortable with him, then we’ll do it. But I don’t think it’ll take long.”
Lineups for tonight’s 7:10 p.m. CT start at Target Field:
1. Tony Gwynn, Jr,, LF
2. Casey Blake, 3B
3. Andre Eithier, DH
4. Matt Kemp, CF
5. James Loney, 1B
6. Juan Urbie, 2B
7. Trent Oeltjen, RF
8. A.J. Ellis, C
9. Dee Gordon, SS
RHP Chad Billingsley (6-6, 4.48 ERA, 3.35 FIP, 2.15 K/BB)
1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Alexi Casilla, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Michael Cuddyer, RF
5. Jim Thome, DH
6. Danny Valencia, 3B
7. Rene Tosoni, LF
8. Luke Hughes, 1B
9. Nishi, SS
RHP Nick Blackburn (6-5, 3.15 ERA, 4.43 FIP, 1.89 K/BB)