The Franchise is Back

SL YContributor IMay 2, 2009

CHICAGO - JULY 8:  Joe Mauer #7 of the Minnesota Twins bats against the Chicago White Sox on July 8, 2007 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox won 6-3. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

With one swing, the hope everywhere in Minnesota arose.

On Friday, Joe Mauer dug in the batter's box for the first time this season. He then proceeded to hit a home run in only his third pitch seen in the big leagues this year.

Mauer, who started the season on the disabled list, was activated prior to Friday's game and hit his first circuit clout of the season in a 7-5 win against the Royals.

The moment seemed so incredible, and many were in awe. The crowd gave him the biggest ovation I have heard since Torii Hunter's return to Minnesota in the 2008 opener.

Mauer's bat will improve the Twins' lineup, which has been quite disappointing so far, leading to their 12-11 record. His presence in the lineup should jump-start slow starters Denard Span and Alexei Casilla.

Twins' pitchers, with the exception of Glen Perkins, have struggled during Mauer's absence. Francisco Liriano has a 6.04 ERA, Scott Baker can't seem to find a rhythm, and the bullpen has been less than stellar. Mauer is one of the better defensive catchers in the game, and knows his pitchers well.

Throughout this early season I felt that something in the game was missing, and when No. 7 walked up to the plate, I started to realize that Mauer isn't just the Twins' best player—he is the the most important player in the American League, period.

Minnesota, our icon is back.