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Joe Mauer Comments on Impact of Concussions on Vision, Hitting, More

Minnesota Twins first baseman Joe Mauer (7) takes batting practice before a baseball game Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015, against the Cleveland Indians in Minneapolis. AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)
Paul Battaglia/Associated Press
Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistFebruary 12, 2016

Minnesota Twins first baseman Joe Mauer is no longer the superstar he once was, which he revealed can be blamed partly on lingering symptoms from a concussion he suffered in 2013.

Speaking to Brian Murphy of the Pioneer Press, Mauer said he still has bouts of blurred vision in the batter's box. 

To combat the problem, he said he'll use sunglasses while hitting: “I’ve always been kind of weird about my routine when it comes to stepping into the [batter’s] box, but it’s something I’ll give a shot this spring and see if it helps."

Murphy added that Mauer will experiment with the shades during spring training, as the Twins will have their first workout February 22. The former American League MVP said he was first diagnosed with a concussion in August 2013 due to at least "two significant blows” from foul tips while he was catching. 

The Twins announced in November 2013 that Mauer was moving to first base on a full-time basis as a result of the concussion he suffered. He hasn't been the same player the last two seasons as he was early in his career. 

Joe Mauer Career Stats
SeasonsAVGOBPSLGK%BB%Avg WAR/Season
2005-13.323.403.46611.112.34.7
2014-15.270.348.37617.610.71.0
Source: FanGraphs.com

Some of that drop-off in production can be attributed to a player in his early 30s in 2014 and 2015, but as recently as 2013, he posted a .324/.404/.476 slash line, so clearly something was not right for Mauer. 

Physically, the 32-year-old admitted there was a time after his concussion diagnosis when working out was a problem: 

Some of the exercises we tried to do last year, I’d come up and be like, ‘Whoa.’ Now it’s gradually getting better. I’m excited for that. That’s why I’m excited to get down there (to Fort Myers) and try some different things.

It could be a lot of things. There are so many different symptoms. For me it was lighting, I couldn’t really pick up the ball. It was blurry at times. Where I am here versus last year at this time, I can tell my workouts are better.

Even though lighting can seem like a silly issue for a hitter as talented as Mauer is, he provided a very sound reason why it does make a difference: "If you’re just a little off, you’re fouling off pitches you should be driving into the gap. In the big leagues, you don’t get too many more opportunities to see good ones to hit.”

The Twins shocked baseball pundits last year, winning 83 games and staying in the wild-card race until the final weekend. Their young talent is starting to make its presence felt in the big leagues, with Miguel Sano finishing third in AL Rookie of the Year voting and Byron Buxton getting integrated into the mix. 

If Sano and Buxton continue their evolution next season and Mauer plays closer to his 2013 level with a new approach and deeper understanding of what was wrong, the Twins will be a dangerous team in the American League.   

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