The Minnesota Twins held their own and kept themselves near the top of the American League Central with an 11-11 record in the first month of the season.
To say the least, they did a good job; they had no Joe Mauer, and in recent history, April has not been a month of strength for the team.
Last season, the Twins never once reached the .500 mark in April. In 2006, the year in which the magical run took place, the Twins faltered in April and struggled mightily until the month was over.
So a .500 record, especially without arguably the team's best hitter, might actually be a good sign.
In the first 22 games of the season, Mauer's two replacements, Mike Redmond and Jose Morales, went 22 for 73 to give them a .301 batting average. The duo also drew seven walks and drove in five runners. While the combination didn't do what the two-time All-Star might have been capable of, they held their own and made everything seem better than it could have been.
Meanwhile, the number three spot in the lineup also performed well. Michael Cuddyer took a shot at that the spot in the lineup, and Brian Buscher saw a few pinch hit chances too. For the most part however, Mauer's counterpart, Justin Morneau, filled in.
The hitters that were slotted into the third spot in the lineup went a combined 29 for 90 to give the slot an overall .322 average in the month of April.
While the catching position and even the three hole might have been fine without Mauer, his return to the team was still a welcome one. Ignore the numbers and simply think about the presence of such a player. Mauer's return makes the team feel complete, and it allows everybody to focus on the remainder of the season and the playoffs.
The lineup meanwhile now has the chance to fully produce, even if they played decently in Mauer's absence. With every player from Morneau down being able to move down a spot in the batting order, the lineup only becomes stronger. In addition to that, Morneau now has protection in front of him with a guy that gets on base and forces pitchers to throw strikes.
The Twins held their own for the first month of the season, but the return of Joe Mauer only makes the team better.