Mauer's bat coming on strong
Without injuries as a worry, catcher can work on hitting
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- It was almost exactly a year ago Twins catcher Joe Mauer suffered a stress reaction in his left leg. It would be the first of a handful of leg injuries he'd battle through during the 2007 season.But with all of Mauer's health issues apparently behind him, the focus this spring has now turned to his bat. Mauer has hit .458 in 10 spring games, and .600 (6-for-10) in his last four games. Obviously things are starting to come around for him at the plate. "The last couple of games, I've felt like I've had good at-bats and felt like my timing has been good," Mauer said. "Even if it was walking or something like that, I felt like I was ready to get to balls. I'm seeing the ball good and I'm just hoping I can carry it into the first month of the season." Mauer belted his second home run of the spring, a two-run shot to the opposite field, in the third inning of the Twins' 4-2 victory over the Orioles on Tuesday. It was part of a 2-for-2 day at the plate for the catcher, who also drew a walk and hit an RBI single to center field in the fifth inning. Before Tuesday's game, manager Ron Gardenhire was asked if he's seen a difference in Mauer this spring considering that he's now fully healthy. "I think he's been able to do a lot more work on his swing," Gardenhire said. "His legs aren't bothering him. I think he's been able to do some things mechanically, so he feels better with that." Mauer agreed that his health has allowed him to work on more specific aspects of his approach. That includes trying to drive the ball to right field more and spray the ball all over the field more consistently. But while the adjustments he's made have been helpful, Mauer said the biggest change has just been approaching everything without his health being a concern. "Last year was a long year, and everything started about this time for me," Mauer said. "Now I'm feeling good and I think I've been able to take advantage of it."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.