February 21, 2010
Not Mauer's agent, Ron Shapiro.
Not anyone from the Minnesota Twins' front office.
Certainly not Mauer himself. His lips are sealed, gosh darn it. Mauer matter-of-factly shot down a reporter's question Sunday at the Twins' spring training facility, less than 24 hours before the team's first official workout.
It was a polite shot, of course, not one in anger or frustration or even apparent irritation. Joe Mauer might get angry in some darkened corner of his life, but we won't know for sure unless someone admits to seeing it happen.
So, Joe, as the question often goes. Any progress on the contract? Any chance you'll become a free agent after the season? Yankees or Red Sox?
"I'm not even going to get into all that," Mauer said. "It's just going to open up a can of worms. I'm just looking forward to this year and that's what I'm preparing for."
That's right, Joe. Worms are for fishing.
Mauer's silent stance — it was his agent's idea — is that nobody says anything about the talks. Let them percolate on their own. An agreement, while not expected today, will happen someday.
Unless it doesn't. And that, see, is what's got some fans (many? all?) spooked in the Twin Cities.
They don't want to lose their hometown kid in a bidding war come winter among the Bronx and New England. Mauer probably doesn't want to leave home, either. But he also wants a fair deal. Guesses peg such a contract as eight to 10 years long and up to $200 million — not exactly the kind of money the fiscally frugal Twins are known for giving out.
So, please, Joe, just a little hit? How long will this drag on?
"I told you guys, nothing is going to change," Mauer said. "That's kind of the policy that we've taken; we're not going to talk about contract or anything like that, really anything past this season. This is what we're focusing on — 2010. There is a lot of excitement and I don't want any of this to take away from that."
It took 163 games but the Twins won the AL Central in 2009 and Mauer became the first catcher to lead the league in batting average (.365), on-base percentage (.444) and slugging percentage (.587) in the same season.
The only change Mauer told reporters to expect was the shaving of his beard, which he let grow while hanging out at his cabin up in the woods of Minnesota. And nobody will have to ask him again about his facial hair: He plans on shaving it before arriving Monday morning.