Some things are finally starting to go right for the Twins. They’ve won eight of their last 10 games and even managed a decisive 8-1 victory over the AL West-leading Rangers on Saturday at Target Field.
They’re also starting to get healthier.
From John Shipley of the St. Paul Pioneer Press comes word that catcher Joe Mauer has not been scheduled to play in any rehab games at Triple-A Rochester and could jump from Single-A Fort Myers to the Twin Cities on Thursday of this week.
Mauer will catch a full nine innings today and Monday for the Fort Myers Miracle before batting against rehabbing closer Joe Nathan in a simulated game on Wednesday. If that all goes well and Mauer feels strong enough, he could be activated in time for the Twins’ Thursday afternoon game against the White Sox.
Mauer was 8-for-34 with no homers and four RBI before landing on the disabled list in the middle of April with bilateral leg weakness. He’s not going to save Minnesota’s season all on his own, but he’ll certainly improve the club’s chances of pulling off a major comeback. Manager Ron Gardenhire said Sunday that he hasn’t decided whether Drew Butera or Rene Rivera will be sent back to the minors to clear a 25-man roster spot.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.