Mauer, Gardenhire help recruit Parise, Suter

DETROIT — It was a big day for the Minnesota Wild today, as they signed top free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to identical 13-year, $98 million deals.

But the Wild were helped by Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and catcher Joe Mauer, as they did their best to recruit the two players. Gardenhire and Mauer both appeared in a video to recruit Parise — a Minnesota native — while Mauer also appeared in one to sell playing in Minnesota to Suter.

Mauer jokingly downplayed his role in the signing of both players, but added he was pleased to hear the news of the two signings from Twins director of baseball communications Dustin Morse.

“If it was then I’m really happy,” Mauer said. “Dustin called me this morning and let me know the news, and definitely being a Minnesota guy, that’s nice to hear. It’s exciting. It’s exciting news.”

Mauer said part of his sales pitch was that they could both come to Target Field to take batting practice before a Twins game. He also told Parise about how special it is to play in Minnesota as a native of the state.

“I think I was wearing a Wild jersey and I was just telling both of them that they’d look good in green,” Mauer said. “I think I might have even promised them batting practice, but I’ve met Zach a couple times before, and he seems like a really good guy and I’m looking forward to meeting Suter, too.”

Parise has participated in batting practice with the Twins twice before, and signed a picture that is displayed in Gardenhire’s office. There’s also a $5 bill tacked to the picture from an unrelated bet Gardenhire made with St. Paul Pioneer Press columnist Tom Powers.

Gardenhire joked that he told Parise he’d add that $5 to his contract if he signed with the Wild as part of his pitch.

“I don’t think he needs to the 5 dollars, but I definitely sent him a video,” Gardenhire said. “I’ve got a picture of him on my bulletin board, in a New Jersey jersey, and I told him I’d like that jersey to be green and there was 5 bucks over the top of it that I got from Tom Powers, which I told him I would add to his contract. That’s basically the video sent. So I’ll take credit for him. Then I offered him about 18,000 rounds of batting practice.”

Mauer and Gardenhire said they both are going to attend more Wild games this season considering the buzz generated by the two signings. Mauer spends his offseasons in Florida but added he’ll make sure to come to games when he’s back up in Minnesota for the holidays.

The Wild have reportedly sold 500-plus season tickets since the signings were announced this morning, and Gardenhire said he was happy to hear it.

“Season tickets ought be going up, and there’s always a lot of interest in the Wild anyway because it’s hockey country, the hockey town in the world, St. Paul/Minneapolis and mostly St. Paul,” Gardenhire said. “It’s No. 1. I don’t care what Detroit says; this is No. 1. Now we’ve got two of the best free agents coming to play for us. I’m pumped up. I’ll be up there in the press box with Sid [Hartman] watching.”

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