Mauer collects five hits. The sun also rises.

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mauer swinging.jpgWe all know what a great player Joe Mauer is, and on Saturday evening in Kansas City he built on that legend.  The Twins catcher finished 5-for-6 with two RBI in Minnesota’s extra-innings victory over the Royals.  It was his third career five-hit game and the 14th time Mauer has tallied four-plus hits.

Mauer, 27, signed a massive $184 million contract extension this spring, but it hasn’t slowed him down one bit.  In fact, he’s off to the one of the best starts of his career, batting .381/.453/.571 with seven doubles, a triple and 12 RBI through 63 at-bats.

The Twins, for those who dabble in the value of standings this early in the season, are 13-5 and sit comfortably atop the American League Central.  With the White Sox struggling mightily and a Detroit pitching staff that includes Dontrelle Willis, the Twins have a real opportunity to run away with that division.

Erasmo Ramirez to be shut down with a minor lat strain

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Mariners right-hander Erasmo Ramirez has been shut down for two weeks with a minor lat strain, reports Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. It’s a precautionary move, as Ramirez felt some tightness in his arm and could not complete his scheduled bullpen session on Saturday.

There’s no word yet on whether Ramirez will be able to recover in time for the start of the season, though he’s expected to claim a rotation spot again this spring. The 28-year-old righty has been dogged by injuries throughout his six-year career, but finally managed to piece together a full season on the mound in back-to-back stints with the Rays and Mariners in 2017. He went 5-6 in 19 starts for the two clubs and turned in a cumulative 4.39 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 through 131 1/3 innings.

The Mariners are no stranger to pitcher injuries, either. They lost a number of their top arms to various elbow, arm and shoulder injuries last year and cycled through 40 total pitchers as they limped toward a 78-84 finish. Comments from club manager Scott Servais indicate that the team will keep a close eye on Ramirez throughout his recovery, though Divish notes that right-hander Andrew Moore and lefty Ariel Miranda could also slot into the no. 5 spot if Ramirez experiences further setbacks.