Joe Mauer didn't feel right last season. He suffered concussion at the end of the 2013 season that put a vice grips on his offseason workout regimen, and when he finally started to hit his progress was dunked by back spasms and an oblique strain. The end result was the worst season of his 11-year career: a .277 batting average with just four home runs and 55 RBIs.
Mauer is expecting much bigger numbers this summer, largely because he's been able to put in a full offseason of conditioning and training.
“I feel strong,” Mauer said while taking a respite from signing autographs at TwinsFest over the weekend, as reported by the Star Tribune. “It’s tough to hit when the knee I’ve had problems with isn’t right. That’s where you get your power from and the ball jumps. I feel good. I’m excited to get out there. I’m starting to swing this week and will see how much progress I have made.”
But Mauer may not have been referring to home runs when he said his power comes from his legs. In fact, 20 homes runs isn't something general manager Terry Ryan expects from Mauer.
“We’re not looking for 20 home runs out of Joe," Ryan said. "I don’t think it’s realistic anymore, but he’s got the ability to put some fear in the opposition.”
Shocking statement from Ryan? Not at all. Mauer, outside of his 28-home run MVP season in 2009, has never topped 13 homers in a season; he's hit double-digit home runs just four times.
But forget about the power for a second. The Twins, despite Mauer's struggles last season, finished fifth in the American League in runs scored. If Mauer can regain the form that's guided him to three batting titles and a career average of .319, the Twins could be even more dangerous at the plate in 2015. It's one of many reasons Mauer thinks the Twins can, as the Pioneer Press reports, "make a splash" this season.
What will the opening day roster look like? Aaron Gleeman has a pretty good idea that'll it resemble something like this.
In the meantime, Mauer still has enough charm to stop kids in their tracks. One kid told KARE 11 that he waited eight years to meet Mauer, and when he finally got the chance over the weekend at TwinsFest, his "life changed."
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