Mauer makes first career start in right field

Mauer makes first career start in right field

Mauer makes first career start in right field
MINNEAPOLIS -- Joe Mauer can now add right field to his list of positions he's played in his big league career.

Mauer, who also made his debut at first base earlier this year, made his first-ever start in right field on Thursday against the Yankees.

Mauer recorded his first putout on Brett Gardner's sacrifice fly in the second, and his second putout came one batter later, as Derek Jeter flew out to right to end the frame.

Mauer recorded one more putout on Gardner in the fourth for his final action in the field in the series opener.

Mauer was forced to play in the outfield for the first time in his professional career, as the club has been hit by a recent rash of injuries, including Michael Cuddyer (neck herniation), Matt Tolbert (sprained left wrist) and Denard Span (migraines). Outfielder Jason Kubel is also out of action, as he's attending to a family matter in San Diego, and isn't expected to return until Friday.

Mauer said before the game that he never even played outfield in high school, but remembers playing outfield in amateur town ball games in Minnesota.

"I can probably count on one hand how many times I've played in the outfield, ever," Mauer said. "It's been an interesting year. Hopefully, it's just today and we can get some guys in here, and it's just a one-time deal."

Mauer, who used Kubel's glove while taking fly balls during batting practice, said he didn't find out he'd be playing right field until 3 p.m. CT and that Justin Morneau was the other alternative.

"He smiled, and asked me if I was serious, and I said, 'Absolutely, I'm serious,'" Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said prior to the series opener. "So he told me, 'Fine,' and he took some balls out there in early BP. He said he'd do whatever we needed him to do."

Gardenhire said he wasn't worried about Mauer in the outfield because of his athleticism and strong arm. But Mauer said he expected a learning curve playing a new position on such short notice.

"I'm just working on catching the ball," Mauer said. "Once I get the ball I don't think I'll have a problem. I don't think I'll have a problem throwing. It's just getting the angles, the wind, and the way the ball comes off the bat."