As a three-time batting champ, Joe Mauer has spent plenty of time at first base. But never while holding a glove.
There he was before Monday’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, fielding ground balls at first base. It was just for practice, of course, as he was in the lineup at catcher for the 15-0 loss to the Dodgers.
But it’s a telling development for an organization and for a player that have fought so hard against the notion that Mauer may one day have to change positions. I never imagined it would be thought about this early in his career.
It makes a lot of sense. Injuries have been piling up, and the Twins have to do something to keep Mauer’s bat in the lineup. He missed two months of the season already this year with a mysterious “leg weakness” condition.
With Justin Morneau out another six weeks, there are at-bats to be had at first base. And with Delmon Young on the disabled list, Michael Cuddyer finds himself back in the outfield.
I’m left wondering how far the Twins would go with this. Do they see Mauer as a Victor Martinez-type player, splitting time between first base and catcher? Do they just see this as something they would do only in an emergency? Nobody really knows yet.
The problem with moving him to first base full time is the gaping hole that leaves at catcher. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire may not be able to decide whether to keep Drew Butera or Rene Rivera as the team’s primary backup, but I think we all can agree that neither is anywhere close to being capable of holding down an everyday job.
Which leads me back to my broken-recordÂ question of the last 10 months: Wouldn’t you like to undo that Wilson Ramos trade?