Tuesday, Jul. 16, 2019

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Van Clemens

Mauer Future Looks More Uncertain


Go ahead and speculate whether Joe Mauer’s latest battle with concussion symptoms will be a major or perhaps deciding factor in whether he continues to play professional baseball after this season.

Mauer hasn’t played for the Twins since May 18. A history with concussion symptoms is a part of his storyline as a major league player. Mauer’s well-publicized concussion in 2013 led to his switching from catcher to first base. He is and was more valuable to the Twins behind the plate, but he is less likely to sustain blows to the head playing first base.

The three-time American League batting champion hasn’t been the same hitter in recent years that he was earlier in his career. In the last four seasons (starting with 2014) Mauer has hit for averages of .277, .265, .261 and .305. In the four years prior to that (beginning with 2010) his averages were .327, .287, .314 and .324.

Dating back to high school who knows how many other concussions Mauer may have experienced in athletics? Mauer’s wife Maddie has a background in nursing and it’s a good guess her medical expertise has her more concerned about Joe’s health than many spouses would be. The Mauers have young children and concerns about having a healthy dad could play into any future decisions regarding Joe’s playing career.

Mauer is 35 and will be a free agent after this season. Known to be wise with his money, Mauer is finishing up the $184 million deal he and the Twins agreed to starting with the 2011 season. He doesn’t need to continue playing for the money and could be uninterested in what the Twins or other clubs might offer for his services in 2019 and beyond.

If Mauer wants to continue his career would the Twins offer any more than $6 million per year for two or three seasons? Does the front office really want him to return? The Twins already have at least two Mauer successors at first base in Miguel Sano and Logan Morrison. The club doesn’t need Mauer at the box office as was the case several years ago when the Minnesota native was one of baseball’s big names and the franchise was moving from the Metrodome to Target Field.

Does Mauer have the passion to continue playing? The Twins don’t look like a World Series contender anytime soon. Playing on the biggest of stages might motivate a Mauer return but perhaps only with the Twins if they were a strong postseason contender. He has played his entire big league career in his home state. With a loaded bank account, history of concussions and a young family, would Mauer really want to play elsewhere?

It’s going to be an interesting period for Mauer between now and next year.

Worth Noting

Minnesotan Tyler Simmons, along with two other amateurs and professional Jason Dufner, won the Pro-Am part of the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio last week. Simmons, an insurance executive who lives in suburban Minneapolis, shot an 88 at the famed Muirfield Village Golf Club while Dufner had a 71. Playing best ball, Simmons and his partners shot 13 under par for the one day 18-hole tournament.

Dufner told the group the course rough was U.S. Open-style difficult and “the greens faster than Augusta,” the site of the Masters. “It’s a once in a lifetime experience,” said the 42-year-old Simmons who is a seven handicapper and plays at the Windsong Farm Golf Club in Maple Plain.

Mike Zimmer

Mike Zimmer, who turned 62 yesterday, is the second oldest head coach in Vikings’ history. Jerry Burns was 64 in 1991, his last year as head coach.

Golden Gophers head football coach P.J. Fleck attended Vikings practice on Tuesday. Fleck had new Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins speak to the Gophers awhile ago.

Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen, who visited with Fleck yesterday at practice, has now gone from being undrafted in 2013 to No. 36 on the top 100 list of NFL players as voted on by his peers.

Sign in the Gophers’ new weight room at the Athletes Village: “Pain of discipline versus pain of regret.”

Individuals with Minnesota connections being considered for 2019 induction into the College Football Hall of Fame include Blake Elliott (Saint John’s), Ross Fortier (MSU-Moorhead) and Marcus Harris (Wyoming);

The baseball Gophers might not have junior All-American shortstop Terrin Vavra if the University of Wisconsin had a baseball program. Vavra, from Menomonie, Wisconsin, could be the best player in the Big Ten Conference. The Badgers eliminated baseball in 1991 because of budget concerns and longtime athletic director Barry Alvarez apparently has no interest in reviving it, even though Wisconsin is the only program in the Big Ten not playing the sport.

Gopher basketball coach Richard Pitino writing in his blog about Brock Stull, his Wisconsin-Milwaukee transfer guard: “Brock Stull is exactly what we needed to add with our last scholarship in the spring. He’s a Big Ten-ready guard right now. I watched a lot of film on Brock when we recruited him. I was extremely impressed when he put up 23 points versus a future Final Four team, Loyola-Chicago, in conference play. He’s tough, versatile and plays the right way.”

Blake James, the Coon Rapids, Minnesota native who has been the athletic director at Miami since 2013, recently was given a long-term contract extension with the Hurricanes, according to online reports.

There will be horse racing buzz this week when Justify tries to become a Triple Crown winner in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday. Trying to win for the third time since early May, the three-year-old could become the first Triple Crown winner since 2015 and only the second since 1978. Advance wagering for the Belmont starts Thursday at Canterbury Park.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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