We all know what a great player Joe Mauer is, and on Saturday evening in Kansas City he built on that legend. The Twins catcher finished 5-for-6 with two RBI in Minnesota’s extra-innings victory over the Royals. It was his third career five-hit game and the 14th time Mauer has tallied four-plus hits.
Mauer, 27, signed a massive $184 million contract extension this spring, but it hasn’t slowed him down one bit. In fact, he’s off to the one of the best starts of his career, batting .381/.453/.571 with seven doubles, a triple and 12 RBI through 63 at-bats.
The Twins, for those who dabble in the value of standings this early in the season, are 13-5 and sit comfortably atop the American League Central. With the White Sox struggling mightily and a Detroit pitching staff that includes Dontrelle Willis, the Twins have a real opportunity to run away with that division.
Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.
The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.
The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.