Justin Morneau’s third major injury in three years has the Twins talking about using Joe Mauer somewhere other than catcher for the first time and he took some reps at first base prior to tonight’s game.
Jordan Schelling of MLB.com snapped the attached photo and Mauer got some personal instruction from manager Ron Gardenhire.
When he’ll see game action at first base and how often he’ll be used there remains to be seen, as both Mauer and the Twins continue to indicate that they have no plans to move him out from behind the plate permanently.
And rightfully so, as he deserves one more chance to get healthy and stay healthy before a career-altering move down the defensive spectrum. Mauer’s career .880 OPS leads all active catchers with at least 1,500 plate appearances, but would rank just 10th among active first basemen. As a way to get his bat into the lineup one or two extra times per week it’s certainly worth a try, though.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.