Twins' Mauer mum on plans for next season
MINNEAPOLIS — Joe Mauer will not crack.
Finishing his 15th major league season and without a contract next season, Mauer has resisted answering questions about his future since spring training.
With the season winding down and the Twins in rebuilding mode, he still refuses to budge.
"I'm looking forward to going out and competing tonight," he said Thursday, Aug. 16, before the opener of a four-game series against the Detroit Tigers at Target Field.
Playing in the final season of an eight-year deal that paid him $23 million annually, Mauer, who will turn 36 next April, has been the Twins' starting catcher or first baseman since his first full major league season in 2005.
Mauer has been on three division-winning teams and been to the postseason four times, mostly recently when the Twins earned the second American League wild-card spot last season. But he's never been on the winning end of a playoff series, and this year's team was gutted for prospects at the non-waiver trade deadline after an underwhelming first half.
He also suffered a concussion while trying to field a foul ball this season, another of several going all the way back to his days as a three-sport athlete at Cretin-Derham Hall — which raises the specter of retirement for the father of twin girls whose wife is expecting a third child.
"There are a lot of factors, and I just haven't gotten to that point yet," he said.
Asked if his prospects of playing in a World Series cross his mind, he said, "Well, yeah, obviously I'm human. You think about that stuff."
"But," he added, "I've always been a very routine-oriented guy. I look at the next task, complete that and go from there. So, I really haven't sat down and done all the thinking that should go into that decision."
With Byron Buxton, arguably the best defensive center fielder in baseball, rehabbing at Triple-A Rochester, the Twins are tinkering with their outfield.
For the second straight game, regular right-fielder Max Kepler was in center, and Jake Cave — who had been spelling Buxton in center — was in left.
Ehire Adrianza, primarily an infielder, was in right, but regular left fielder Eddie Rosario was there Wednesday.
Expect flux over the last six weeks of the season.
"We're just giving them a chance to see the game from a different perspective, so I don't think it is going to change a ton," manager Paul Molitor said.
Robbie Grossman, who started a rehab series (hamstring) with the Red Wings in Toledo Thursday night, also has played the corner spots. He will be re-evaluated on Sunday.
Buxton was in Rochester's lineup for the second straight day since being activated from the disabled list (left wrist strain) but the Twins aren't rushing him back.
"It's going to be an evaluation in two- and three-day doses to see where he is at," Molitor said. "We have a little time to see where he is at. Getting him healthy and getting him back in there is priority one."
Left-hander Adalberto Mejia had an additional MRI exam to determine the severity of what the Twins think is a nerve issue in the area of his left biceps. The team didn't know the results at game time. ... Right-hander Trevor Hildenberger, who has closed the Twins past three victories, has chosen the White Stripes' "Seven-Nation Army" as his first official closer song. ... Twins players were wearing Eddie Rosario T-shirts inspired by video game Super Mario Bros. that read "Super Rosario." They were made by Minnesota company SotaStick.