Twins’ Joe Mauer eager to play in final week of season (or career?)
Twins manager Paul Molitor has been mindful of Joe Mauer’s workload ever since he took over as manager in 2015. Most day games following night games, Mauer has not been in the lineup. Lefthander on the mound? Give him a break. Off day coming up? Maybe sit Mauer out the day before to give him a two-day breather.
There’s always been flexibility, based on how Mauer has felt. But with this being the final week of the season — possibly his last season — how much Mauer will play during these final games might be weighed differently.
“I’ve talked with Mollie and that’s the thing,” Mauer said. “Always prided myself on being available and getting out there and playing. This will be no different.”
Mauer, 35, was the designated hitter Wednesday against Tigers lefthander Matthew Boyd. Chances are good that Mauer will be in the lineup Thursday in the series finale.
The Twins have a doubleheader Friday against the White Sox, so Mauer might play in only one of those games. The next interesting decision will come Saturday when the White Sox plan to start lefthander Carlos Rodon.
And Mauer, of course, is expected to play in the season finale Sunday.
“I’m going to play him as much as we can,’’ Molitor said. ‘’It’s the last week and he’s feeling good. We’re checking every day.”
When asked if playing in four of the final six games made sense to him, Mauer replied: “Like I said, I’d like to play every one of them. We do have that doubleheader on Friday. We’ll see when we get there. I plan on playing them all.”
Catcher Mitch Garver has been cleared by the league and is available off the bench. Garver hasn’t played since Sept. 12 when he was hit in the facemask by a foul ball while working behind the plate. He initially wasn’t diagnosed with concussion symptoms, but those appeared a couple of days later.
The Twins did not officially place Garver on the concussion disabled list, but still informed the league about his condition and treatment.
Garver will not catch over the final week of the season, but he could pinch hit and possibly DH or play some at first base.
New affiliate coming
The Twins definitely will have a new Class AA affiliate next season. The Cincinnati Reds have signed a two-year deal to return to Chattanooga after a seven-year absence. The Twins spent the past four seasons at Chattanooga, winning the Southern League title in 2015.
Pensacola, Fla., and Amarillo, Texas, are the two locations the Twins are considering. The Padres also are interested in Pensacola, which is in the Southern League. The Reds, it just so happens, are moving to Chattanooga from Pensacola.
Amarillo is building a new stadium for Class AA baseball, and the San Antonio Missions are moving into the facility next season and looking for a MLB franchise to sign them as an affiliate.
• Miguel Sano continues to battle soreness behind his left knee and was unavailable Wednesday. Sano has been hobbled since Sept. 5 when he injured his lower left leg sliding into second base in Houston. He returned Sept. 18 against Detroit, striking out in all four at-bats, but hasn’t played since.
• While righthander Aaron Slegers has been activated from the disabled list, it’s not a lock he will pitch in a game. “It’s not a high priority,” Molitor said. “We’ll just see how the games go. He hasn’t pitched since July and we weren’t in position to get him to face hitters or anything like that. I don’t know how likely it is, but we will see how it goes.”