Minnesota Twins Get Their Star Back

Andrew Rocco@@Andy_RoccoContributor IJune 17, 2011

Mauer looks to make an immediate impact upon his return.
Mauer looks to make an immediate impact upon his return.Elsa/Getty Images

While everyone was prepared to write off the Minnesota Twins a month ago (including me), an intelligently run front office just may prevail.

In sports, timing is everything. And in this case, props must be given to Twins GM Bill Smith.  After orchestrating a well thought out plan for getting their superstar, Joe Mauer, back to full health, the Twins are seemingly back in the mix in the AL Central. 

Where many front office executives may have felt the pressure to rush their coveted franchise player back at less than 100 percent, Smith took the more intelligent approach.

While Mauer was dealing with “bilateral leg weakness” (basically weak knees from the rigors of catching), he attempted to fight through the pain and start the season with the Twins. It quickly became clear he was hobbled and not at full health. A decision was made by the Twins upper management, which may prove to have been genius in the long run. 

Mauer was placed on the 60-day DL and given the opportunity to fully recover. Over those two months he went through endless rehab and prolonged minor league stints. This ensured the Twins organization that he was able to catch multiple days in a row. Not to mention, they knew he would make more of an impact upon his return.

With that said, the Minnesota Twins have already won 11 of their last 13 games without their All-Star catcher.

Now due back on Friday, Mauer can only improve their current standing within the American League. Mauer was recently asked if he’s thought about how he’ll be perceived by Twins fans upon his return.

He said, “I think most of that negativity’s probably come out of frustration, and let me tell you right now, nobody’s been more frustrated than me over the last months. I go out there and play hard every day. Obviously, the support of the fans means a lot to me, and I hope once I get back on the field, and we start playing, things will get back to the way they used to be.”

After a rough start to the season, one may ask, what is “the way they used to be“?

Well, Mauer is clearly referring to the Twins past winning ways and consistent division contention. That is now achievable with more than half of the season remaining.

All because of a well thought out approach by GM Bill Smith, manager Ron Gardenhire and the rest of their staff. That, my fellow baseball fans, is how you manage a franchise player (and a $184 million investment).