Joe Mauer “not happy” Ron Gardenhire talked publicly about his knee injections

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Yesterday manager Ron Gardenhire revealed to reporters that Joe Mauer might be held out from catching early in Twins camp after receiving a lubricant injection in his surgically repaired left knee, saying he wanted to “make sure those things take effect” before upping Mauer’s workload.

Apparently that wasn’t supposed to be public information, because this morning Mauer spoke to those same reporters about the situation and they all came away thinking he was upset at Gardenhire for spilling the beans.

Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com wrote that Mauer “wasn’t thrilled about his lubricant knee shot going public.” Kelsie Smith of the St. Paul Pioneer Press wrote that Mauer is “miffed the shots are public.” LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote that Mauer was “not pleased Gardenhire outed him about the injection.”

During a typical interview Mauer says absolutely nothing of interest, let alone anything even close to controversial, so for three reporters to come away from a meeting with him thinking he was upset about the manager’s loose lips is noteworthy. Mauer also stressed that the injection is simply part of his planned recovery from surgery, saying that the shot he received this week is the first in a series of three scheduled to get him ready for the season:

It’s not that I need it. It’s more of a preventative thing just to make sure I’m good to go for the season. It’s really not that big of a deal and I kind of wish it wasn’t out there, but here we are. I was surprised that it was out there. Usually a lot of these things happen and you never know about it. I guess being a catcher and all that stuff, it might sound a lot worse than what it is. I don’t think it’s really that big of a deal.

Mauer has had more than his fair share of injuries over the years, including a knee injury that required surgery and cut short his rookie season after just 35 games in 2004, but since then he’s been among the most durable catchers in baseball while averaging 134 games and 576 plate appearances per season.

“It’s not that I need it,” said Mauer, who underwent the minor knee surgery in mid-December. “It’s more of a preventative thing just to make sure I’m good to go for the season … It’s really not that big of a deal and I kind of wish it wasn’t out there but here we are.”

Upon finding a group of reporters at his locker prior to Wednesday’s workout, Mauer expressed some disappointment that the news was made public.

“I was surprised that it was out there,” he said. “Usually a lot of these things happen and you never know about it.”

He added, “I guess being a catcher and all that stuff, it might sound a lot worse than what it is.”

“I don’t think it’s really that big of a deal.”

Matt Carpenter hit a standup bunt double

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The wave of defensive shifts we’ve seen over the past few years has led to a lot of armchair hitting coaches demanding that players bunt to beat it. This is easier said than done, however.

The shift happens because certain hitters tend to pull the ball. Certain hitters tend to pull the ball because pulling the ball is what happens when one gets a strong, quick swing on a pitch one identifies early and which one endeavors to send as far away from home plate as possible. Which is to say that pulling is a skill that is good to have and which is strongly selected for among hitters.

In light of that, “why not just bunt to beat the shift” takes are kind of lazy. Bunting is hard! And it is not a thing guys who get shifted a lot are good at. Most of the time asking a player to do a thing he is not well-equipped to do is a bad idea. Indeed, a hitter voluntarily going away from his strength is something the defense would much prefer.

Most of the time anyway.

Last night Matt Carpenter made those armchair hitting coaches happy by laying down a bunt to beat the shift. And he laid it down so well that he ended up with a standup double:

One batter later Carpenter scored on a Starlin Castro error.

The shift giveth and the shift taketh away.