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Twins hope less of Joe Mauer equals more

Joe Mauer's offensive production didn't make the move with him from behind the plate to first base. Can he return to the type of hitter he used to be?

It has been three full seasons since Joe Mauer last hit over .300 for the Minnesota Twins.

Mauer hit .324 with 11 home runs in 2013 – good enough for another All-Star appearance and a silver slugger award as the American League's best-hitting catcher.

However, a foul ball caught him in the mask and a concussion cut that season short. Since much has changed for both himself and the Twins.

The six-time All-Star was forced to move out from behind the plate to first base, but Mauer's offensive production didn't make the move with him.

Between 2006 and 2013, Mauer finished a season hitting over .300 six times. Over that time, he won three batting titles and was named the American League MVP in 2009.

Since the concussion, Mauer's offensive numbers have plummeted.

  • 2014 – .277 Avg, 4 HRs, 96 strikeouts
  • 2015 – .265 Avg, 10 HRs, 112 strikeouts
  • 2016 – .261 Avg, 11 HRs, 93 strikeouts

Early last year, Mauer showed signs of turning it around. He kept his average over .300 through the first quarter of the season, but a quad injury nagged him and he finished the year in a tailspin getting just 12 hits over his final 82 at bats.

Can he ever return to his pre-concussion form? Mauer thinks so.

Mauer spoke to reporters Thursday as he was helping the Twins promote the upcoming Billy Joel concert at Target Field this July, and he addressed his health entering his 14th MLB season.

"I feel great," Mauer told the Star Tribune Thursday. "I knew it would take time, and it did, but I'm back to where I should be – getting ready to play."

While Mauer says he's healthy and confident that he can return to his previous production levels, there appear to be changes headed his way.

Twins manager Paul Molitor told 1500 ESPN to expect Mauer to be rested more regularly this season, hoping that a little less of Mauer in the lineup will improve his performance when he does play.

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