Mauer game plan unchanged from 2012

Published 10:21 am Thursday, December 6, 2012

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Joe Mauer played a career-high 147 games in 2012 but started just 72 of them as a catcher as the Twins gave him time at first base and designated hitter in an attempt to keep him healthy. That strategy worked, and manager Ron Gardenhire sees no reason to change it.

Gardenhire said Tuesday, that he plans to shuttle Mauer between catcher, first base and DH again in 2013, adding he talked with the five-time all-star about the arrangement at the end of last season. Mauer has said his preference is to catch, but he admitted last July the arrangement had kept him on the field more than he would have been if he’d tried to be a full-time catcher a year after an injury-riddled 2011 season.

And Tuesday, Gardenhire said Mauer is on board with the plan going forward.

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“He liked the way it worked,” Gardenhire said. “I don’t see any reason to change those things. I think, again, we go into the season, (it’s) very important to keep him in the lineup. We’re going to do the best we can with that again.”

Mauer hit .319 last season, finishing second in the American League batting race and returning to the All-Star Game. He turns 30 in April, and his offense is as important to the Twins as ever.

“Joe likes to catch. You have to understand that,” Gardenhire said. “He likes to run the ballgame, he likes being behind the plate. But I think he also enjoyed his time at first base and the DH and that gave him a little bit of a reprieve from taking that beating every day.”