Notebook: Mauer not throwing out runners, but problem goes beyond him
Get the 1500 ESPN SportsWire delivered to your inbox daily, and keep up with all the news in Twin Cities Sports
MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer entered Thursday having thrown out only six of 54 base stealers this season (11%), which is by far the lowest rate of his career.
Mauer's career caught stealing percentage is 33%, and his career-high for a season is 53% in 2007.
Could Mauer, specifically, do a better job on his end when it comes to throwing out runners? The Twins say yes, but the problem also lies with his battery mates.
"(Mauer) is not having any arm problems at all. A lot of it's on the pitchers," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I think mechanically... We were saying he's getting caught kind of back a little bit, rather than going and getting the ball. I think he can do that.
"The problem this late in the season is being able to get him out there, when he's playing every day, and do some (practice). It's something Steve (Liddle) is going to talk to him about, because he's kind of sitting there catching it flat-footed. ... That leads to him having to stand straight up and throw the ball, rather than driving through it."
Gardenhire added that several Twins pitchers are being timed at 1.4 and 1.5 seconds to home plate on their deliveries from the stretch. While it may not seem like much of a difference, teams would prefer their pitchers to get the ball to the catcher in closer to 1.2 seconds.
"The other day we're getting 1.35 and 1.41, that doesn't give (Mauer) much of a chance," Gardenhire said. "But there's some things that Joe can probably get a little better with -- driving through it a little more."
Can pitchers improve their speed to home plate without sacrificing in other areas?
"Some of them can, some of them can't," Gardenhire said. "Some of them have a long arm swing where you get what you get. Some of them can get better, but they get locked into the hitter too much, rather than holding runners, and it's something that we preach through our minor leagues.
"We talk to them all the time. A guy can't come to the big leagues and throw the ball with a 1.4, or a 1.35. They have to be better than that. That needs to be worked on all the way up so when they get here they have a slide step down towards a 1.2... Then you give (the catcher) a chance."
Arcia, Vasquez among September call-ups?
The Twins are likely to announced September call-ups on Friday. There are strong indications Double-A outfielder Oswaldo Arcia will be among them, and perhaps Arcia's teammate Aaron Hicks.
Arcia, 21, is hitting .315/.386/.528 with 15 home runs and 91 RBIs between High-A Fort Myers and Double-A New Britain. Hicks, 22, is in the midst of his best minor league season yet, hitting .285/.381/.449 with 12 homers, nine triples, 20 doubles, 92 runs and 31 stolen bases.
With Scott Diamond currently serving a seven-game suspension, manager Ron Gardenhire said the team will call up a starter from the minor leagues to fill in on Sunday against the Kansas City Royals.
This is purely speculation, but that starter could be 28-year-old right-hander Esmerling Vasquez, who has allowed only seven earned runs in 42 innings over his last seven appearances for Triple-A Rochester (five starts). Over that stretch, Vasquez has struck out 44 while walking 17 and allowing only 26 hits.
Vasquez last pitched on Sunday, so he'd have plenty of rest.
Samuel Deduno entered Tuesday night's start with more walks issued than strikeouts this season. Rarely did he let an inning go by without allowing a baserunner or two.
That wasn't the case against Seattle. Deduno fanned a career-high nine while walking nobody in seven scoreless innings.
Oddly enough, some of the credit may indirectly go to Felix Hernandez.
"I know (pitching coach Rick Anderson) and (Deduno) were talking about some adjustments, something in his grip or something," Gardenhire said. "Andy said he really pays attention.
"He watched a lot of video on Hernandez, what he was doing with the ball. And Andy talked to him about, 'Watch his set-up and watch the way he does this.' Deduno was really diligent in watching that video of Hernandez the other night, and maybe he picked something up off that. ...
"I think it was pretty interesting to see his results last night after doing that."
Solid results on Tuesday, but Deduno's 5.00 FIP and 4.69 xFIP suggest his 3.72 ERA is due for some inflation at some point. He can prevent that by continuing to limit walks.