TAKING A BEATING
Catchers have the toughest job on the field. In addition to trying to hit, handling the pitchers and controlling the opponent’s running game, they do it all while taking a tremendous pounding.
They sit in that squat all game long, a big stress on the knees. They drop to the dirt to block short-hop pitches and throws from the field. They catch foul tips off their arms, their hands, their legs and their mask.
You don’t run into too many catchers later in life who have a complete set of perfectly shaped fingers.
I played for Bob “Buck” Rodgers, when he managed the Angels. Buck had a nine-year career as a catcher for the Angels, and the toll it took on his body showed. He would point at you with his index finger, but it would be pointing to the right. So we always got a kick out of it. “You have the bucket today,” he would say, pointing at someone. And we would look at each other like “who are you pointing at?” We really couldn’t tell, his finger was so misshapen.
CATCHER FOR LIFE?
Mauer has already been facing the question: Will you ever change positions? Some argue that it makes sense. He’s such a great hitter, so why risk shortening his career by putting his body through the daily grind of catching games?
But Mauer is a lot like Bob Boone or Carlton Fisk, Johnny Bench or Ivan Rodriguez. They are what they are. They’re catchers. They have it in their blood, and so does Mauer. He knows he’s in on every pitch of every game, and he loves it.
There are no negatives about Joe Mauer. He’s the whole package, as a player and as a human being.
Joe is very even keel. He’s a leader, but not outspoken. He’s from one of the best families you’ll ever meet, right here in St. Paul. They are very community-oriented people, very down to Earth. They always have a smile on their face, and are a family that enjoys like. Joe takes that to baseball, and he’s excelling because of the foundation he had as a kid growing up.
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