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July 8, 2014


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Jake Mauer predicts his grandson Joe Mauer will hit over .300 before the season ends but told Sports Headliners he understands the frustration Twins fans have with their $23 million per season first baseman.

“He’s getting a big salary, he should produce,” Jake said.  “That’s what the fans think and that’s what the fans want.  He’s trying but it just don’t happen (yet).  But I don’t blame the people.”

Jake said Joe has mentioned the possibility of being benched, and grandpa has thought too the former American League batting champion should come out of the lineup.  “But they can’t bench him because he’s making so much money.  They gotta have him in the lineup,” the older Mauer said.

Mauer is on the 15-day disabled list with a right oblique strain suffered several days ago.  The injury to his side and its timing have added to the frustration for Mauer who was hitting a career low .260 on June 24 but raised his average to .271 on July 1.  In the last 10 games before being sidelined he was hitting .359 and had 10 RBI (only 28 for the season).  Jake predicts his grandson will not play again until July 18.

“He couldn’t understand the (poor hitting) stretch that he went through,” Jake said.  “He’s never had it in his life.  He starts coming out of it and then he gets hurt.

“He says, ‘What the heavens are going to happen next? Here I suffer for two months and then I start a string of going good and then I get hurt.  It’s just terrible.’ ”

Jake said Joe’s struggles have at times caused his grandson’s spirits to be low. “He feels he’s letting the team down.  He just can’t get the hits that bring in the runs.”

Jake, a former baseball player himself, mentored Joe as a child growing up in Saint Paul.  What’s the problem with his grandson’s hitting this year?

Jake believes the concussion Mauer suffered last August and caused him to miss the remainder of the season is a factor.  “I think it has hampered him.  I really do.”

Mauer learned last summer and during the fall months the ongoing aftereffects of a concussion.  He also could look at the history of close friend Justin Morneau who suffered a concussion in 2010.  It has only been this season that Morneau, now with the Rockies, returned to being one of baseball’s more productive hitters.

A winner of three batting titles and .330 lifetime hitter going into this season, Mauer has not only produced minimal offensive numbers including only two home runs but has been striking out more than normal.  Jake said Joe has told him his timing isn’t right.

Joe also critiqued himself by saying, according to Jake, that “sometimes I have a lazy swing.  Sometimes I have a good swing but I am never consistent.”

Not only do fans wonder about the concussion but there is speculation Mauer is an old 31 after 10 seasons of absorbing the physical toll of catching.  This season he was moved to first base but no one would argue the change has helped Mauer who hit .324 and .319 the last two seasons as a catcher.

Still, Jake said his grandson “definitely” will hit over .300 before the season ends.  “He’s on his way and then he got hurt.”

Mauer’s contract runs through the 2018 season.  Although the Twins have lost close to 100 games each of the last three seasons and appear destined for the same results in 2014, Jake said Joe doesn’t want to play for another team now or ever.  “Oh, no. The Twins are his home and there is no other team that he would play for. …If the Twins won’t have him back (after the contract expires), he won’t come back with any other team except the Twins.”

At next week’s MLB All-Star Game in Minneapolis Jake and Joe could do something neither would have predicted.  The two will probably watch the game together in the Target Field suite Mauer owns.  A six-time All-Star, including last year, Mauer will have to watch from some place other than the field or the dugout.

“He doesn’t believe he belongs,” Jake said.

It’s been that kind of season so far.

Worth Noting 

Mid-July is typically a time of minimal rain in Minneapolis and long range forecasts indicate dry weather for next Tuesday’s MLB All-Star Game here.

Jim Kaat, 75 and among the former Twins who will be in town for All-Star activities, is an ambidextrous golfer who has shot his age both right and left handed.  Kaat won 25 games in 1966, the most in Twins franchise history for a single season.

The Twins, who play on the road at Seattle and Colorado before the All-Star break in scheduling starts next Monday, have lost four consecutive series.  Last night’s loss against the Mariners left the Twins with a 3-11 record since June 23.

The Eastern Illinois team the Gophers open their season with at home on August 28 is ranked No. 24 nationally among FCS teams by Athlon magazine’s college football issue.  The Panthers were 12-2 last season but lost their star quarterback to the NFL and coach to Bowling Green.

North Dakota State, a program using Minnesota high school players for a foundation, will be chasing a record fourth consecutive FCS national title.  The Bison are ranked No. 2 in the country by Athlon.

The magazine selected former Eagan High School player Zach Zenner, now at South Dakota State, as one of two running backs on its All-America first team.

New WCHA commissioner Bill Robertson recently was at Bemidji State and plans to visit all 10 of his schools before Christmas.  Robertson, a Saint Paul native, became WCHA commissioner this spring succeeding Bruce McLeod.

Players from the Timberwolves NBA Summer League roster will scrimmage tomorrow night at Target Center starting at 7 p.m.  The scrimmage is open to the public and admission is free.  Timberwolves fan memberships are required to obtain autographs after the scrimmage.  More details are available by contacting a Timberwolves membership sales rep at 612- 673-1234.  The Timberwolves begin their NBA Summer League schedule on Saturday night in Las Vegas against the Mavericks.

The most recognizable names on the summer league roster are Gorgui Dieng, Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad, Glenn Robinson III and Alexey Shved.

Registration for the 2015 Grandma’s Marathon opened last week.  The annual Two Harbors-to-Duluth race is the 16th largest in the country and in 2014 had 7,964 participants.

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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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