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Mauers together in minors

By David Dorsey, Special to the Star Tribune, 06/06/11, 10:47AM CDT


Joe playing for brother Jake at Class A Fort Myers during his continued rehab assignment

FORT MYERS, FLA. - Joe Mauer always looked up to his oldest brother, Jake, as inspiration to become a better baseball player.

For at least this week, Joe can do so again with Jake as his manager in Fort Myers.

"I think it made me a better player because of the age gap [between himself and his two older brothers], four and three years," said Joe Mauer, 28. Jake is 32, and Billy Mauer, who also played in the minor leagues for the Twins, is 31. "I had to figure out ways just to compete growing up."

Joe Mauer went 1-for-4 with an RBI single and a walk Sunday as the designated hitter for the Fort Myers Miracle, a Class A Twins affiliate. He drove in a run to put Fort Myers ahead in the sixth inning, but the Jupiter Hammerheads came back with three ninth-inning runs for a 6-5 victory in front of an announced 820 fans at Hammond Stadium.

"To be honest, it was kind of business as usual," said Jake, a minor league teammate of Joe's for 2 1/2 seasons. "We would have liked to have had that one there. I think about all the runners left on base and all that stuff. That's baseball. That's what happens.

"But it's definitely a good feeling when you've got him coming up with runners on base," Jake said. "It adds some excitement to it."

Joe Mauer, who is getting back in playing shape in Florida, is scheduled to start at catcher for the Miracle on Monday night, with Twins infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka starting his rehabilitation assignment at shortstop.

"I've heard a lot of great things about him as a manager," Joe said of his brother. "To see it firsthand, it's pretty cool. For me to get around a young group of guys, it kind of re-energizes you a little bit. Things aren't going so well up there in Minnesota. We're working our way back."

For Joe, it's a big positive to be playing for Jake. "I'm with my brother. We don't usually see each other in the summer, but it's a good thing. It's a good thing to be back on the field."

Mauer wore No. 45; his No. 7 is worn by Miracle first baseman Nate Hanson, an ex-Gophers and Eden Prairie High School athlete.

"I offered it to him, and it didn't fit," Hanson said.

Said Mauer: "I thought it was pretty cool. I said, 'That's your jersey, and I'll just take whatever's left.'"

Mauer went on the disabled list April 12 because of what was diagnosed as bilateral leg weakness. He is eligible to return to the Twins on Sunday, but there's no set timetable.

"Hopefully sooner than later I'll get up there," he said. "I just need to get into baseball shape right now, getting at-bats, catching and seeing how I recover from that."

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