Joe Mauer “finally turning the corner” with leg weakness

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Twins catcher Joe Mauer didn’t reveal much information about his ongoing rehabilitation from bilateral leg weakness and a viral infection on Thursday when he spoke with a group of reporters. But he did acknowledge that he feels like he is “finally turning a corner” and getting close to “increasing the intensity” of his workouts.

Phil Mackey of the Twins Cities’ 1500 AM ESPN has all the goods from the short media session.

Beyond the questions about his current physical condition, Mauer was also asked about a potential position change. It’s something that might keep him healthier long term, but he told the reporters in attendance that it is not yet a topic of discussion:

“To catch. That’s what I want to do. It’s April. We have a lot of games ahead of us. If I come back and I’m not ready to go, I think it’s not fair to my teammates, not fair to the team, to the organization. I have to get ready to go and ready to play. … I just think I can help the team a lot better behind the plate. That’s what I signed here to do — to catch.”

Mauer was 8-for-34 (.235) with four RBI before the weakness and viral infection sidelined him on April 12. Minnesota has been relying on Drew Butera and Steve Holm behind the plate in his absence.

The Tigers are trying to convert Anthony Gose into a pitcher

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Tigers’ center fielder Anthony Gose wants to try his hand at pitching, according to comments made by manager Brad Ausmus on Sunday. Gose is poised to start the year in Triple-A Toledo after receiving a midseason demotion to Double-A last summer following an altercation with Triple-A manager Lloyd McClendon.

While the experiment won’t detract from Gose’s outfield work in Triple-A, the 26-year-old is expected to take on additional bullpen sessions throughout the year. According to MLB.com’s Jason Beck, the left-handed hitter last took the mound in high school, where his fastball was clocked as fast as 97 m.p.h. Gose ultimately rejected the idea of starting his professional career as a pitcher, despite receiving favorable assessments from scouts.

Ausmus said the idea first surfaced at the end of the 2016 season. It appears to be a fallback option for the outfielder, who has struggled at the plate over his five-year career in the majors. Via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News:

Doolittle in Oakland did it and he was in the big leagues a couple of years later,” Ausmus said. “It’s going to take some time. He’s going to have to be a sponge and catch up on experience fast. But we feel it’s worth investigating.

Stephen Strasburg is the Nationals’ Opening Day starter

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Nationals’ right-hander Stephen Strasburg will take the mound for the club on Opening Day, manager Dusty Baker said on Sunday. The news is hardly surprising given Max Scherzer’s questionable status this spring, though it had yet to be confirmed by the club.

Strasburg is approaching his eighth run with the club in 2017. He went 15-4 in 2016, finishing the year with a 3.60 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 11.2 SO/9 in 147 2/3 innings. This will mark his fourth Opening Day assignment with the Nationals.

Scherzer, the Nationals’ Opening Day starter in both 2015 and 2016, is scheduled to make his season debut sometime during the first week of the season. The right-hander is expected to take things more slowly this spring as he finishes rehabbing a stress fracture in his finger.

The Nationals will open their season against the Marlins on April 3.