Twins catcher Joe Mauer didn’t reveal much information about his ongoing rehabilitation from bilateral leg weakness and a viral infection on Thursday when he spoke with a group of reporters. But he did acknowledge that he feels like he is “finally turning a corner” and getting close to “increasing the intensity” of his workouts.
Phil Mackey of the Twins Cities’ 1500 AM ESPN has all the goods from the short media session.
Beyond the questions about his current physical condition, Mauer was also asked about a potential position change. It’s something that might keep him healthier long term, but he told the reporters in attendance that it is not yet a topic of discussion:
“To catch. That’s what I want to do. It’s April. We have a lot of games ahead of us. If I come back and I’m not ready to go, I think it’s not fair to my teammates, not fair to the team, to the organization. I have to get ready to go and ready to play. … I just think I can help the team a lot better behind the plate. That’s what I signed here to do — to catch.”
Mauer was 8-for-34 (.235) with four RBI before the weakness and viral infection sidelined him on April 12. Minnesota has been relying on Drew Butera and Steve Holm behind the plate in his absence.
World Series Game 1 was billed as a battle of aces, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw against Chris Sale of the Red Sox. Between them, they have 14 All-Star Game nominations. Kershaw has won three Cy Young Awards. Sale could his first Cy Young Award this year. Among his 10 seasons with at least 110 innings pitched, Kershaw has never posted a sub-2.92 ERA. Sale has been at 2.90 or below in each of the last two seasons. The two have combined for over 4,000 career strikeouts and both have averaged better than a strikeout per inning over their careers.
And yet Tuesday’s Game 1 was anything but a pitcher’s duel between Kershaw and Sale. Though a couple of fielding mistakes weren’t of any help to Kershaw in the first inning, Red Sox batters were squaring him up good. Of the five balls put in play in the first inning, three had exit velocities of 100 MPH or higher. Of the 12 total balls put in play against him overall, five reached triple digits in exit velo.
Kershaw gave up a pair of runs in the first, another run in the third on a J.D. Martinez double to straightaway center field, and another two in the fifth. Kershaw led off the fifth by walking Mookie Betts, then giving up a single to Andrew Benintendi, ending his night. Ryan Madson relieved Kershaw and proceeded to allow both inherited runners to score. All told, Kershaw yielded five runs on seven hits and three walks with five strikeouts on 79 pitches in four-plus innings.
Sale, meanwhile, was on the hook for individual runs in the second, third, and fifth. Dodger hitters weren’t squaring him up quite as well as the Red Sox batters squared up Kershaw, but Sale was still more hittable than usual. Of the eight balls put in play against him, four were at least 90 MPH in exit velo. One of the runs was a no-doubt solo home run to Matt Kemp in the second. The Dodgers chased Sale in the fifth when he issued a leadoff walk to Brian Dozier. Matt Barnes relieved him allowed the inherited runner to score. Overall, Sale threw 91 pitches in four-plus innings, serving up three runs on five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts.
The game is now, as has been generally the case throughout this postseason, a battle of the bullpens.