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.
On Monday, Cubs catcher Willson Contreras showed he was very confident heading into the 2018 season, saying, “I know that I’m going to be better than [Yadier Molina and Buster Posey].” Contreras explained that his goal is to become “the best catcher in the game for a long time — like it was with Yadier Molina, like it is with Buster Posey.”
Apparently, Contreras ruffled Molina’s feathers as the Cardinals’ veteran backstop took to Instagram to respond. Posting a picture of himself with Buster Posey and Salvador Perez, Molina wrote, “Respeten los rangos NOVATOS!! aqui con los q si han probao que son los duros!!” That loosely translates to “respect the ranks,” referring to Contreras as a novice.
Molina is no stranger to using Instagram to air his grievances. He apparently used the social media app to take a swipe or two at manager Mike Matheny last year.
Of course, Molina seems to be misreading the intent of Contreras. Contreras seems to think highly of Molina, having referred to him as being one of the best catchers in the game — even if it was in the past tense. Molina should know, being someone who also competes at the highest level, that having confidence is an important part of the recipe for success. Perhaps this will make for some interesting games during the season, breathing new life into the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry.