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.
The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.
Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.
While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.