Twins hope to pair up in All-Star Game
If timed correctly, Mauer could catch Santana on Tuesday
PITTSBURGH -- Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer and southpaw starter Johan Santana are arguably the best batterymates in all of baseball.
Mauer, a former No. 1 overall draft pick, flirted with a .400 batting average for much of the first half of the season. Santana won the 2004 Cy Young Award in 2004, and he's widely considered one of the game's premier left-handed pitchers.
The dynamic duo is hoping to put their teamwork on display for all of the world to see Tuesday night at PNC Park in the 77th Midsummer Classic.
Although Santana tossed seven innings Sunday in a loss to the Texas Rangers, he maintains that he should have at least one inning left in his arm for the big game, since it would fall in line with his normal between-starts routine.
"Tuesday will be my bullpen day, so we will have a chance to at least pitch an inning," said Santana. "We'll see how it goes."
In order for Santana to pitch to Mauer, however, he'll probably need to enter the game in one of the later innings. Mauer is one of two backups to American League starting catcher Ivan Rodriguez, and AL skipper Ozzie Guillen might be reluctant to pull Rodriguez early in the game.
"Hopefully we can sneak him in for an inning when I am out there, too," said Mauer. "That would be pretty fun."
The whole All-Star experience has been pretty fun for Mauer. As the leading hitter in the big leagues with a .378 batting average, Mauer is now being recognized as one of the game's premier catchers by the fans and his peers.
"This is something I have always dreamt about," Mauer said. "These are the best players in the game. To be on an All-Star team is quite an honor.
"It's starting to sink in a little bit."
As a first-time All-Star, Mauer plans to follow the lead of his teammate, Santana, a two-time selection.
"He's been here. So he has a pretty good idea of what to expect," said Mauer, who is expecting 16 friends and family members to make the trip from Minnesota to Pittsburgh to watch him play. "I try to follow him around and some of the guys who have been around here."
For his part, Santana was more than happy to have his young batterymate tag along.
"He's done a great job for the team and it's good to have him here. He's one of the best catchers," said Santana. "This is always a cool experience. It was a very exiting experience last year and it's definitely nice to be back and be around these guys."
Santana and Mauer were joined on the AL squad by Minnesota teammate and late addition Francisco Liriano. The rookie southpaw was added to the team Monday afternoon when Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Jose Contreras declared himself unavailable to pitch after tossing six innings against the Boston Red Sox on Sunday afternoon.
Liriano had been an All-Star snub despite going 10-1 with a league-leading 1.83 ERA in 22 appearances.
"There is no question that he should be here," said Santana. "The numbers that he has put up are impressive, unbelievable."
Ed Eagle is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.