Spring training has just started but beat writers for the Minnesota Twins are already in mid-season form when it comes to Joe Mauer.
Usually it takes the writers until at least May to drop the anonymous innuendo of problems between Mauer and the Twins, but this year it begins on the second day of spring training.
“Mauer isn’t just polarizing among Twins fans, some of whom will revere him no matter how he plays and some of whom blame him for every loss. He’s polarizing within the Twins organization,” the Star Tribune’s Jim Souhan writes today.
Really? Name somebody.
Those close to him rave about his diligence and Everyman persona. Those who care more about results wonder why a full-time first baseman nearing the end of his prime doesn’t add more muscle to his frame or adopt an approach that would beat the defensive shifts that nullify so many of his line drives.
The absence of attribution for Souhan’s assertion suggests the source for his column is likely Jim Souhan. (And very few hitters try to go opposite field to beat the defensive shift)
The latest problem with Mauer, aside from the fact he makes a lot of money, is the former catcher’s suggestion that he’s had blurriness problems in the years after he suffered a concussion behind the plate.
If you believe blurred vision is the sole reason for his regression, this sounds like a wonderful story. That’s how Mauer spun it Tuesday, after reporting to Twins spring training. He acknowledged his vision problems, and ended just about every sentence with a version of “The message we’re trying to get out there is how good I’m feeling and how far I’ve come.”
Mauer’s original comments on the subject came in a Pioneer Press story earlier this month in which he acknowledged he didn’t tell his bosses about his vision woes.
“You know, I probably haven’t done that great of a job of doing that,” he told writer Mikesaid. “There’s days where it’s been really difficult and those when it hasn’t been very difficult. It just hasn’t been very consistent.
“Athletes are wired a certain way where you play through anything,” he said. “I think there were some things maybe I should have taken a step back and taken a look at and tried to take care of (the symptoms), especially physically.”
In his story today, the PiPress writer gives Mauer credit for not insisting he was misquoted about not revealing his woes.
“If I felt they needed to know something, I would have went and told them,” Mauer said. “You’re out there, the season’s a grind, and you try to go out there and compete. That’s what I do coming to the park every day.”
If he wasn’t making so much money, that kind of talk would get you revered “scrappy” status.
Related: Sports Panel Highlights Tough Times for Real Journalism on Sports (Mediashift)