Columnist: Put ‘coddled’ Mauer behind the plate again

Pioneer Press columnist Bob Sansevere has lit up the Internet today with his assertion that the Twins should put Joe Mauer back behind the plate to catch.

He had 11 home runs in 2013, just four this season. He had eight more doubles and a .324 batting average in 2013. He hit .277 in this just-completed debacle of a season and injuries hijacked about a fourth of the games he could have played in if healthy.

Face it, the guy is brittle wherever you play him. So why not let him play where he’s happiest? Maybe he’ll get his batting average back over .300 if he’s not in sulk mode. And maybe that $23 million a year Mauer makes won’t be as much of a waste of money as it is when it goes to a middling first baseman. And — there’s no maybe here — he would be easier to trade if he’s behind the plate, even if it’s not full time.

As for current catcher Kurt Suzuki, give him a first baseman’s glove and he can rotate between first and DH with Kennys Vargas when Mauer is catching. Or just sit Suzuki when Mauer catches.

Bottom line here: The new manager has to stop the Mauer coddling and have him catch again.

Sansevere left out an important point, though. Mauer suffered a brain injury as catcher and that’s why he was moved to first.

Over to you,Aaron Gleeman.

Because he suffered a brain injury while catching and catching puts him at further risk to suffer more brain injuries. And perhaps Mauer had a hard time getting his batting average to its usual mark because he suffered a brain injury last season and dealt with headaches, mood swings, sensitivity to light, and other symptoms for months. Twins fans watched a concussion nearly ruin Justin Morneau‘s entire career. Also, “sulk mode” is made-up garbage.

So, to recap: Sansevere wants to move Mauer from first base/designated hitter to catcher and move the current catcher, Kurt Suzuki, to first base/designated hitter. What would that accomplish, exactly? They’d both still be in the lineup taking up the same two positions. And the one with previous brain trauma would be at the more dangerous position.

Sansevere’s column exposes the problem in trying to raise awareness of the problem of concussions: a willful ignorance by people whose livelihood depends on games.