Joe Mauer won’t be catching in the early part of spring training

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Joe Mauer received a shot of medicine earlier today to help lubricate his left knee joint, according to Kelly Theisier of MLB.com. Of course, Mauer underwent minor surgery in December to take care of some lingering inflammation in the very same knee.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said today that he plans to take it easy with his star catcher in the early part of spring training.

“I want to make sure those things take effect,” Gardenhire said of the shot. “He’s feeling a lot better. You can see him moving and feeling great and we want to keep it that way. So we’re going to kind of guard him and back him off, and we’ll eventually get him in the ballgames, too.”

“I’m not thinking that he’s going to be catching in the games right away, either,” said Gardenhire. “I’m just going to bide my time with that and make sure we get him in situations and get him ready. It’s more important for him to see the pitchers on the side, a few bullpens on the side, but I want to make sure we clean that knee up before we get anything going.”

Maybe we shouldn’t be alarmed quite yet, but the long-term health of Mauer’s knee is obviously of critical importance given the rigors of the catcher position. The 27-year-old has started 105 and 107 games behind the dish in the past two seasons and I’d honestly be surprised if that number will increase as he gets up there in age.

Nick Williams has been trying to sell Jake Arrieta on the Phillies

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CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Phillies outfielder Nick Williams has been working out daily with free agent starter Jake Arrieta in Austin. The right-hander, who won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, still remains teamless with spring training less than a month away. Williams has been trying to sell Arrieta on joining the Phillies.

Williams said of Arrieta, “He loves it here [Austin]. He has told me he likes working with young guys. I’m like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I’m not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I’m not really in his position.”

On GM Matt Klentak’s hunt for pitching help, new manager Gabe Kapler said, “The pursuit is very real. I have a lot of trust that we’ll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we’re better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”

Arrieta, who turns 32 years old in March, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and a 163/55 K/BB ratio in 168 1/3 innings last season with the Cubs. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers have been linked to Arrieta this month.

Presently, the Phillies’ starting rotation figures to include Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez along with some combination of Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter, and Jake Thompson. Arrieta would certainly amount to a big upgrade in the starting rotation and could make the Phillies a more attractive landing spot for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, who become free agents after the 2018 campaign. The Phillies are expected to be in the mix for either or both players.