Twins' Mauer eager to wash away 2011

BY foxsports • January 12, 2012

Joe Mauer regrets being able to play only 82 games last season. He must also regret his career-low .287 batting average and three home runs. That's to be expected.

But in an interview Thursday on FOXSportsNorth.com's livestream of KFAN's "Paul Allen Show," Mauer revealed another regret: He wishes he and his team had been more up front about the causes of his struggles in 2011.

"At the time, we thought we were doing the right thing, and I wish we had done things a little differently," said Mauer, a four-time All-Star and the 2009 American League MVP.

Months later, the disappointment of a 63-99 season still palpable but fading, it's easier for Mauer to recognize and discuss his disappointment with a season that started with bilateral leg weakness and ended with pneumonia. Although he may have felt it the most — "I don't think anybody was more frustrated than I was," he said — his whole team dealt with the effects of a losing season, and it bled over into the organization's attitude.

"Everything that probably could have went wrong, went wrong," Mauer said.

Mauer said that All-Star Michael Cuddyer, who signed with the Rockies in December, may have been the one bright spot for the Twins and that the team's struggles might have worn on the right fielder. But instead of dwelling on his teammate's decision to leave Minnesota, Mauer spoke highly of Cuddyer.

"You miss guys like that," Mauer said. "Cuddy's a good guy, plays the game the right way."

The Mauer who called into KFAN was a cheerful, self-described excited version of the oft-injured star. He talked about his offseason training and rehab and said that his left knee is improving, though he's facing other physical consequences of playing last season favoring one leg.

All that, though, should be resolved by the time the Twins take the field April 6 at Baltimore. That's what Mauer is looking forward to: the season, his rehab work paying off, finally getting back into the rhythm of the game. And though he said he would love to be behind the plate for all 162 games, he knows that's an unrealistic goal for him. He'll be prepared to play first base and DH, as he did last season, though he would prefer to leave right field to someone else.

"I'm kind of just taking the same approach as I always have," Mauer said. "Whatever (manager Ron Gardenhire) thinks that I can (do to) help the team win, that's what I'm going to do."

Looking past the season, Mauer has something else to anticipate: his wedding to girlfriend Maddie Bisanz. The two haven't set a date yet and have specified only that they'll get married next offseason. That might be all the information Mauer is going to give. He said his fiancée prefers to stay behind the scenes, so Mauer's avoidance of the spotlight is unlikely to change as the wedding approaches.

It would seem that Mauer learned a lot about that spotlight in the past year, especially its negative side. And though he seemed just a bit more willing to open up Thursday, he also had a few words of advice for the media who seemed intent to find the answers to his problems last summer.

"We're in a position where we have a microphone in front of our face every day," he said, "and sometimes you don't know the answer and you're trying to find it out, too."

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