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More action for Mauer? Twins might keep just two catchers

The SportsXchange

Last season, with Joe Mauer a year removed from a long list of injuries, the Minnesota Twins used a three-catcher rotation to keep their franchise player healthy and in the lineup. And it worked.

Mauer played a career-high 146 games, starting only 72 of them at catcher as he recovered from leg injuries. He spent the rest of his time at first base or designated hitter, and he finished second in the American League batting race.

This season, though, Mauer says he wants to catch more. General manager Terry Ryan said in January he expects Mauer to catch 125 games. And though manager Ron Gardenhire initially said he wanted to stick with the strategy, it appears the Twins might be headed in a different direction.

Gardenhire recently told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that he might keep just two catchers, hoping to give the Twins more production off the bench. That would mean Mauer would have to carry the bulk of the load, with the defensively limited Ryan Doumit as his only backup.

Though Mauer, Doumit and Chris Parmelee could all play first base, the move also assumes Justin Morneau is healthy enough to play the majority of the team's games at first base. Morneau started the 2012 season recovering from a wrist injury and was limited by a number of injuries in 2011, but he has been healthy this spring.

"I know we want a little more something off the bench instead of two utility guys and a backup catcher," Gardenhire told the Pioneer Press. "I'm going to have a better bench and have a little more weapons, so we're going to do that. One thing I told Terry is that I want some pop off the bench."
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