Joe Mauer in Cedar Rapids – Day 2

Tuesday night was a big deal at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids.

Twins Joe Mauer and Ricky Nolasco were in the Kernels’ line up together and at least twice the usual Tuesday night crowd squeezed in to the ballpark to watch them.

I don’t know that from witnessing it first hand, but only from accounts from media and family members that used my season tickets that night.

Seems I had foolishly committed to making a business trip to St. Louis Sunday through Wednesday this week.

So I missed the filled ballpark and, from what I understand, filled pressbox on Tuesday when Nolasco pitched and Mauer DHed for the Kernels, who beat the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 9-0 that night.

I did make it home from St. Louis Wednesday in time to see Mauer’s rehab debut in the field at first base. I didn’t expect to see another huge crowd, but I certainly didn’t expect to see what was essentially a pretty normal 2,000+ crowd, either. Yet, that’s exactly what I saw.

I’m not sure what that says about baseball fans in Eastern Iowa.

Maybe it says we aren’t as awe-struck by the presence of big leaguers as some people think we should be.

Maybe it just reemphasizes that the Twins organization still has a lot of work to do in the area if they want to truly make a dent in the Cubs’ stranglehold around here and make this area a part of “Twins Territory.”

Maybe it reflects the reality that Joe Mauer, himself, does not have the star power that he did when he was winning batting titles and MVP awards, not to mention being the cover-boy of MLB video games for two straight years.

Still, while a lot of the Twins fans in Minnesota who have been booing Mauer at Target Field this season might scoff, he’s an almost certain future Hall-of-Famer and he was in uniform playing for the Kernels Wednesday night. If you’re a baseball fan, why the heck would you NOT show up to watch?

You can’t say nobody tried to get you out there.

The Kernels began marketing the Mauer arrival even before they could officially announce it was happening. When it was still an “unofficial” thing, the Kernels announced via every media outlet they could get access to that they would have special extended ticket office hours Saturday and Sunday.

And people did take advantage. They got tickets for Tuesday and they got tickets for this weekend’s games, but there was little demand for Wednesday’s contest.

It’s great that there will be big crowds Friday and Saturday, but honestly, there were going to be big crowds Friday and Saturday, anyway. Already-planned promotions and tie-ins with a major local employer or two this weekend guaranteed the Kernels would have a couple of pretty full houses those two nights, with or without a big league headliner.

That’s good, perhaps, because there’s no assurance that Mauer will play both nights. He’s scheduled for an off day on Thursday and he indicated after Wednesday’s game that he still has a few things on his, “checklist,” that he wants to accomplish before returning to the Twins, so I think we can safely assume he’ll be on the field Friday night. If I were a betting man, I’d put money on him also being with the Kernels on Saturday night.

I would also be betting he’s en route to Houston to rejoin the Twins before the Kernels take the field on Sunday.

Anyway, I just don’t understand the mediocre crowd Wednesday night.

At least the fans who did show up didn’t boo Mauer when he walked to the plate. They didn’t rise to their feet with an ovation, either, but the polite applause is better treatment than he gets from his home town fans at Target Field these days. I don’t understand that treatment, either.

Anyway, on Wednesday night, Mauer continued to kick off the rust a bit. He went 0-3 before calling it a night. He grounded in to a force out in the first inning and was stranded at second base. He barreled up on one in his second at-bat and drove the ball to the warning track in left-center field. In his third trip to the plate, he watched two strikes go by and then went down swinging.

Defensively, I don’t recall a ball being hit to him at all. He did get one ball thrown to him on a DP attempt that went in the dirt and he didn’t come up with it.

He obviously is not lighting up the Class A pitching he’s seeing, but that’s why you rehab in the minors. Keep in mind, it’s not like he’s been taking BP throughout his time on the Disabled List. His injured oblique muscle meant he was pretty much on the shelf until taking a few cuts in the few days before coming to Cedar Rapids. Anyone who thinks it’s easy to sit out a month and then step in and immediately hit any level of professional pitching has never tried to do it.

If he’s not making consistent solid contact by the time the weekend is over, then I’ll be a bit concerned.

The Kernels and Twins PR guy Andrew Heydt have done a good job of getting media access to Mauer without totally disrupting the clubhouse and other aspects of the game day routine for the Kernels. As was the case Tuesday, Mauer met with the media after exiting the ballgame in an auxillary locker room near the Kernels’ clubhouse.

Here’s some video I shot of that exchange. I think you can tell he’s not pleased with his results on the field, but he’s also glad to just be back on the field again. His response to a question I posed also gives a little insight in to those items on his “checklist” that he still wants to try to do before rejoining the Twins.

The Kernels got pretty well drubbed in the game. Chih-Wei Hu had his first rough start as a Kernel, giving up six runs in the fourth inning.

Nick Burdi pitched the ninth inning for Cedar Rapids. He maxed at 99 mph on the scoreboard gun, which is known as a “slow gun.” We use a +2 guideline in Cedar Rapids, adding 2 mph to what shows on the board, which means Burdi likely hit about 101 on that pitch. Otherwise he was in the mid-upper 90s with the fastball and around 90 with the slider.

Finally, here are a few photos of the evening.

You may have heard, Joe Mauer is a Cedar Rapids Kernel this week.

You may have heard, Joe Mauer is a Cedar Rapids Kernel this week.

She'll have a story for her kids some day.

She’ll have a story for her kids some day.

"Hey, I think I recognize this guy."

“Hey, I think I recognize this guy.”

Jake Mauer picking up after his younger brother after Joe is left stranded at 2B

Jake Mauer picking up after his younger brother after Joe is left stranded at 2B

Wednesday was Joe Mauer's first game in the field in more than a month

Wednesday was Joe Mauer’s first game in the field in more than a month

First time Mauer played behind Chih-Wei Hu. May not be the last time.

First time Mauer played behind Chih-Wei Hu. May not be the last time. Wednesday’s fourth inning notwithstanding, Hu has been very good for the Kernels.

We’re celebrating my grandson’s first birthday on Friday by having a “Party at he Park,” and I’m looking forward to seeing Mauer donning one of these, “Jimmy Buffet Night” jerseys on Saturday night.

Hawaiian_Jersey_Promo_8g1ishv5Mauer may well be on his way to Houston to rejoin the Twins by Sunday, but I’ll be at the ballpark that afternoon to watch Ricky Nolasco stretch himself out to 75 pitches in his second rehab start with the Kernels. – JC

Episode 94: The Future of the Twins?!

You can download the new Talk to Contact (@TalkToContact) episode via iTunes or by clicking here, and if you want to add the show to your non-iTunes podcast player, this is the RSS Feed.

gardycard

After a week off, we’re back and making podcast magic!  This week we discuss the roster moves that happened surrounding the trade deadline, and talk about how the Twins are going to put a roster together when Joe Mauer returns.  We muse ont he future of Ron Gardenhire and who is going to manage the Twins in the future.  We talk about some of the young taelnt coming through the organization and how everything could fit together.  Plus we do the regular – beer, baseball, and the news.

90 minutes to make your ears bleed.

 

I hope you enjoy this special episode.You can follow Cody on Twitter (@NoDakTwinsFan) or read his writing at NoDakTwinsFan, you can find Paul on Twitter (@BaseballPirate) you can find Eric on Twitter (@ERolfPleiss) and read his writing at Knuckleballs, and you can find Mr. Jay Corn on Twitter (@Jay__Corn)!

If you enjoy our podcast, please take a couple extra minutes and rate and review our show on iTunes.  iTunes ratings and reviews are the main way we judge our self-worth.

GameChat – Twins @ Royals #4, 7:10pm

So.. the new guy will make his Twins debut tonight – on this 24th birthday. Happy Birthday Kenny!

Minnesota @ Chi White Sox
Santana, D, CF Eaton, CF
Dozier, 2B Beckham, G, 2B
Plouffe, 3B Abreu, 1B
Willingham, LF Konerko, DH
Suzuki, K, C Ramirez, Al, SS
Vargas, 1B Gillaspie, 3B
Colabello, DH Flowers, C
Parmelee, RF De Aza, LF
Escobar, E, SS Sierra, RF
  Darnell, P   Sale, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 0 5 0 0 0 1 1 1 8 14 2
Chi White Sox 0 2 1 1 1 1 0 4 x 10 17 0

the first half of this game was so much better than the end…

GameChat – Twins @ Royals #2, 7:10pm

Anyone else out there hope that Hughes can really bring it tonight? I do!

Minnesota @ Kansas City
Santana, D, CF Aoki, RF
Fuld, LF Infante, 2B
Dozier, 2B Hosmer, 1B
Willingham, DH Perez, S, C
Plouffe, 3B Gordon, A, LF
Suzuki, K, C Butler, B, DH
Colabello, 1B Moustakas, 3B
Parmelee, RF Cain, L, CF
Nunez, SS Escobar, A, SS
  Hughes, P, P   Duffy, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 7 1
Kansas City 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 x 3 9 0

it’s unfortunate but I think I, along with the rest of Twins Territory, is pretty used to this…

GameChat – Twins @ Royals, 7:10pm

The boys are missing some beautiful weather in Minnesota but let’s hope Kansas City has it’s own joy of summer. Let’s also hope that Gibson has something he can do against a likely better team..

Go Twins!

Minnesota @ Kansas City
Santana, D, CF Aoki, RF
Fuld, RF Infante, 2B
Dozier, 2B Hosmer, 1B
Willingham, LF Perez, S, C
Parmelee, 1B Gordon, A, LF
Plouffe, 3B Butler, B, DH
Suzuki, K, C Moustakas, 3B
Nunez, DH Cain, L, CF
Escobar, E, SS Escobar, A, SS
  Gibson, P   Shields, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Minnesota 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 7 0
Kansas City 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 5 2

..

GameChat – White Sox @ Twins #4, 1:10

A bit late getting this up, but just got home a bit ago from our quick little trip up to the Twin Cities to see Chris Sale humiliate the Twins last night. It was a great trip as long as you didn’t have any expectations of seeing the Twins play anything resembling Major League baseball.

Here’s today’s lineups as the Twins try to avoid a sweep.

Chi White Sox @ Minnesota
Eaton, CF Santana, D, CF
Ramirez, Al, SS Fuld, LF
Abreu, 1B Dozier, 2B
Dunn, A, DH Plouffe, 3B
Viciedo, RF Arcia, O, RF
Gillaspie, 3B Willingham, DH
De Aza, LF Parmelee, 1B
Beckham, G, 2B Fryer, C
Nieto, C Escobar, E, SS
  Carroll, P   Pino, P
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Chi White Sox 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 1 0 3 8 0
Minnesota 0 0 1 0 0 0 3 0 x 4 6 0

Hey at least our guys didn’t get the broom from the visiting White Sox.

Let’s give the BOD to Sam Fuld.

samfuld

GameChat – White Sox @ Twins #3, 6:10pm

Ok.. JimCrikket and his son drove all the way up from Cedar Rapids to see today’s game if I recall correctly. Let’s see if the Twins can’t actually give them a decent game..

It’s HOT & humid so let’s see if we can’t find some miracle way to get to Chris Sale huh?

and no, I don’t know who Darnell is either – LOL – gotta love the second half of the season for a team that isn’t “contending” because you get to see all sorts of new folk! Gleeman posted a great pic of the “scouting report” from FSNorth.

Btgb7WKCAAI0bUG

 

Chi White Sox @ Minnesota
Eaton, CF Santana, D, CF
Ramirez, Al, SS Dozier, 2B
Abreu, DH Plouffe, 3B
Viciedo, RF Colabello, 1B
Konerko, 1B Willingham, LF
Gillaspie, 3B Arcia, O, RF
Flowers, C Suzuki, K, C
De Aza, LF Nunez, DH
Beckham, G, 2B Escobar, E, SS
  Sale, P   Darnell, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Chi White Sox 0 1 1 0 2 3 0 0 0 7 14 0
Minnesota 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 1

*sigh*

GameChat – White Sox @ Twins #2, 7:10pm

ok, hot & humid tonight so let’s see if the Twins can’t be the responsible party to a few long carried balls in the “elevating” air.

Chi White Sox @ Minnesota
Eaton, CF Santana, D, CF
Ramirez, Al, SS Nunez, 3B
Abreu, 1B Dozier, 2B
Dunn, A, DH Colabello, 1B
Viciedo, RF Willingham, DH
Gillaspie, 3B Arcia, O, RF
Beckham, G, 2B Suzuki, K, C
De Aza, LF Escobar, E, SS
Flowers, C Fuld, LF
  Danks, Jh, P   Correia, P
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Chi White Sox 3 0 2 2 0 1 1 0 0 9 17 0
Minnesota 0 1 0 0 0 2 1 0 1 5 9 2

Another pretty ugly game.

It was fun seeing Jorge Polanco make his Target Field debut, even if he gets sent back down later tonight.

Have to wonder if Josh Willingham hit his final home run as a Twin. – JC

GameChat – White Sox @ Twins, 7:10pm

The White Sox are in town! Let’s see if Mr. Hughes can’t kick a few butts, huh?

In case you missed the news earlier, the Twins traded Kendrys Morales to the Mariners today for a young pitcher named Stephen Pryor – so Kendrys is back with his old team and I hope he does well and I’m looking forward seeing how the new guy does.

Chi White Sox @ Minnesota
Eaton, CF Fuld, LF
Ramirez, Al, SS Dozier, 2B
Abreu, 1B Plouffe, 3B
Dunn, A, DH Willingham, DH
Viciedo, RF Arcia, O, RF
Gillaspie, 3B Suzuki, K, C
Beckham, G, 2B Parmelee, 1B
De Aza, LF Escobar, E, SS
Flowers, C Santana, D, CF
  Noesi, P   Hughes, P, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Chi White Sox 0 0 1 3 0 1 0 0 0 5 11 0
Minnesota 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 2 3 1

no one ever wants to see a game with the WSox go that way… unless you’re a Sox fan, in which case, you’re not likely reading this blog…

GameChat – Indians @ Twins #3, 12:10pm

Ok, rubber match time. It’s phenomenal baseball weather here in Minnesota so for all those fans lucky enough to sneak out of work for a little midday baseball, I hate you and I’m jealous.

Perhaps that is too harsh but maybe I will re-evaluate my feelings based on the result of today’s game?

Good luck to Anthony Swarzak who is leaving the bullpen however temporarily to make his first start in quite awhile. *crosses fingers*

Cleveland @ Minnesota
Kipnis, 2B Fuld, LF
Ramirez, Jo, SS Dozier, 2B
Brantley, CF Plouffe, 3B
Santana, C, 1B Morales, K, DH
Chisenhall, 3B Colabello, 1B
Swisher, DH Arcia, O, RF
Murphy, Dv, RF Nunez, SS
Perez, R, C Fryer, C
Dickerson, LF Santana, D, CF
  Bauer, P   Swarzak, P
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Cleveland 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 5 1
Minnesota 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 x 3 8 1

WOOOHOOO!!! A series victory and redemption for all work-skippers.. Boy did the boys have a nice day to entertain MN fans. I just wish I had been able to be one of them.

For all around awesomeness that makes us look forward to boxscores in the future, Danny Santana is our BOD! (boy do we need to get a few more Knuckleballs pictures!)

Daniel Santana

Daniel Santana