KANSAS CITY -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire isn't accustomed to seeing Joe Mauer frustrated. After all, the former batting champion doesn't normally find too many troubles when it comes to his offense. But recently, the catcher hasn't been seeing the types of pitches he's used to and it's led to some struggles at the plate -- and well, a little bit more emotion than the team is used to seeing from Mauer. That included the catcher breaking his helmet after one of his at-bats in Saturday's game.
"He's been fired up the last couple of days," Gardenhire said. "It seems like he's a little flustered. You don't see that too often. It's understandable because he's a pretty good hitter. He's just not getting pitches right now that he can do anything with." Mauer hasn't had much luck hitting on the team's current road trip. He entered Sunday batting just 3-for-18 (.167) with one RBI over the first four games of the trip in Chicago and Kansas City. Most of Mauer's outs have come on ground balls, including a stretch of five straight groundouts to the second baseman in the first two games of the series at Kauffman Stadium. Gardenhire said he doesn't think that teams are pitching Mauer differently right now, but the catcher is just going through one of those difficult periods. "When he's swinging good, it doesn't matter what they do -- whether they pitch him inside or outside," Gardenhire said. "He's just rolling over a few balls right now and getting out in front of it a little bit. "He's going through that stage where every time he's up there it seems like [it's] strike one, strike two and he's never ahead in the count. So he has to end up fighting pitches off more, and they are making pitches on him right now." Mauer got a breather Sunday, but it had nothing to do with his hitting. A day game following Saturday's night game gave Gardenhire the perfect opportunity to get backup catcher Mike Redmond in the lineup. Redmond had not played since April 2 against the Angels. Mauer's struggles aren't anything of concern for the Twins. Gardenhire said that every player goes through a period like this. "You go through stretches like that where every close pitch is called on you," Gardenhire said. "That's what it feels like anyway. Everybody goes through it -- everybody. He's just gone through it less than most."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.