Newspaper columnist ignores Joe Mauer’s brain injury, calls him a wimp, says he should catch again

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I want to make you aware of one of the worst “hot takes” I’ve ever seen, but first some background information just so we’re all on the same page.

Joe Mauer spent a decade as a catcher, winning three batting titles and one MVP while making six All-Star teams and snagging three Gold Gloves. Then in August of last season he suffered a concussion from a foul tip to the mask, the symptoms for which remained months later and forced him to move from catcher to first base at age 31.

And now, following an underwhelming first season at first base for Mauer, newspaper columnist Bob Sansevere of the St. Paul Pioneer Press wrote something that has me shaking my head after nearly every sentence. Let’s go through it:

What will the Twins’ next manager do about Joe Mauer? Here’s a thought: Let him catch again.

Reminder: He stopped catching last season because of a brain injury.

The reason he was told to pack away his catcher’s mitt was because he kept getting hurt and there was a belief sticking him at first and having him DH would mean fewer injuries and more games played.

To write “he kept getting hurt” without mentioning the specific injury that forced the position change was to Mauer’s brain and was caused by catching seems misleading at best. An alarming number of catchers across baseball have unfortunately also suffered brain injuries caused by catching in recent years.

Well … Mauer played in 113 games and had 445 at bats while still a catcher in 2013. This season, no longer catching, he played in 120 games and had 455 at bats. Yep, a difference of seven games and 10 at bats.

He did manage to avoid another brain injury, which was the entire point. The fact that Mauer spent time on the disabled list with a strained oblique muscle–also an increasingly common injury across baseball in recent years–is secondary to his avoiding further trauma to his brain.

Face it, the guy is brittle wherever you play him. So why not let him play where he’s happiest? Maybe he’ll get his batting average back over .300 if he’s not in sulk mode.

Because he suffered a brain injury while catching and catching puts him at further risk to suffer more brain injuries. And perhaps Mauer had a hard time getting his batting average to its usual mark because he suffered a brain injury last season and dealt with headaches, mood swings, sensitivity to light, and other symptoms for months. Twins fans watched a concussion nearly ruin Justin Morneau’s entire career. Also, “sulk mode” is made-up garbage.

As for current catcher Kurt Suzuki, give him a first baseman’s glove and he can rotate between first and DH with Kennys Vargas when Mauer is catching. Or just sit Suzuki when Mauer catches.

So, to recap: Sansevere wants to move Mauer from first base/designated hitter to catcher and move the current catcher, Kurt Suzuki, to first base/designated hitter. What would that accomplish, exactly? They’d both still be in the lineup taking up the same two positions. And the one with previous brain trauma would be at the more dangerous position.

Bottom line here: The new manager has to stop the Mauer coddling and have him catch again.

Bob Sansevere, veteran, high-profile newspaper columnist and radio host, thinks the Twins were “coddling” a player by moving him away from catcher following a brain injury and thinks moving that same player back to catcher is now the best plan. And he literally never mentions the concussion in the entire column.

Sigh.

UPDATE: Sansevere has now edited the original article in attempt to make it less offensive, adding in several new paragraphs and altering others, but barely notes the changes. One such alteration:

News flash: You can suffer a concussion anywhere on the field, including while playing first base.

Seriously. He added that to the original article.

Aledmys Diaz is trying to improve his defense with strobe glasses

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.

Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.

The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.

Eduardo Rodriguez could rejoin the Red Sox rotation in July

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Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.

The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.

He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.