Twins Tuesday: Mauer getting back into old habits
JUN 24, 2014 9:36p ET
Mauer has been on a tear as of late and looking more like he did in 2009, the year he was named American League MVP. It appears that he has finally made the full adjustment to first base.
The position change has been adjustment for Mauer. It might seem like a reprieve and it often was when he was an everyday catcher, but his approach at the plate is different. Game preparations of infielders and catchers can differ greatly, and a key part of that preparation was missing recently for Mauer: Tracking pitches.
"This is something different for him, not going to the plate anymore he's not tracking as many pitches," Gardenhire said.
It was a huge realization, and one only the studious Mauer was likely to point out.
"When he was behind the plate in game, before he would ever hit he would track pitches from the pitcher," he said. "That's something in his head to get used to, he doesn't track as many pitches now. So it's different hitting, because he's used to tracking so many pitchers from our pitchers throwing to him that you get your eye lines and you get everything lined up. That makes a lot of sense."
Gardenhire is especially not worried about Mauer in Anaheim. Coming into Game 1 of the three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels, he's hitting .786 with a double, home run and six RBI in his last three games against the Angels. But it's not all on Mauer in California this week.
"You've got to remember the other side of the coin, the guys that we're facing here are real good pitchers," he said. "We're facing three pretty good pitchers here. We'll see how we do as a unit."
Gibson's Streak: Right-hander Kyle Gibson will put his streak of 22 scoreless innings on the line Tuesday night. Gibson has been a fantastic addition to a pitching staff that has performed well in recent weeks and his streak was influential in lowering the team ERA in the month of June.
There's nothing special that Gibson is doing different, Gardenhire says the lanky righty has found the right mix of pitches and is confident in each one he's throwing.
"I think right now you can see his confidence is really up there," Gardenhire said. "He feels confident with what he's doing and how the ball is coming out of his hand, he's locating the ball really well."
Just 26 years old and without a ton of major-league service time under his belt, Gibson is ambitious, saying he wants to be a front-end rotation guy soon. But Gardenhire just shakes his head at that notion. He already is, Gardenhire said.
"He's the number one guy right now. When it's his day to pitch, he's number one," he said. "I understand classifying pitchers for salary reasons - number one, number two and all that stuff - but I just want him to be a good pitcher and fit into the rotation and do his part."
Cali Roots: It's a homecoming of sorts for four Twins who grew up in Southern California. Because no trip to the West Coast would be complete without it, In-N-Out Burger is on their agenda this week.
Ricky Nolasco, a former Los Angeles Dodger and a nearby Riverside County native, was so excited to get his two Double-Doubles that he flew out ahead of schedule.
"I flew out early on Sunday night and once my brother picked me up from LAX that's the first place we went," Nolasco said. "I haven't had it since December, so it's been a while."
Nolasco insists that he's just as excited to see his entire family this week as well. Just call it a California thing.