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News » Twins rookie catcher Jose Morales finally finds range from behind the plate

Twins rookie catcher Jose Morales finally finds range from behind the plate

Twins rookie catcher Jose Morales finally finds range from behind the plate
Throwing out Mark DeRosa at second base Sunday didn't help the Twins beat Cleveland. But that play might make a difference in this week's series with Tampa Bay.

The sixth-inning out made DeRosa the first base runner stopped by Jose Morales (or fellow catcher Mike Redmond) this season, after 19 straight successful steals. And his timing couldn't be better, what with the Rays -- Baseball's best base-stealing team, by far -- in town for three games.

Morales probably will be behind the plate for all three, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said, and the confidence the rookie has gained while working on his throwing motion might be important in keeping the Rays from running too frequently.

quot;He wasn't using his legs to push and drive toward the bag. He's been working on it, and that's not easy to do when you're up here catching and going on the side and trying to work on your throwing. Your body takes a beating,quot; Gardenhire said. quot;He threw (DeRosa) out yesterday and the ball looked really good.quot;

That fact didn't go unnoticed by the Rays, manager Joe Maddon said.

His team entered Monday leading the majors with 24 steals, five more than the runner-up Angels, but quot;we try to analyze a lot of factorsquot; in deciding when to steal. A catcher's throwing arm is one of them, but a pitcher's delivery time plays a big role too.

quot;We try to pick and choosequot; when to run, Maddon said. quot;It's really not automaticquot; that they will try to run on Morales.

The Rays didn't attempt to steal a base Monday, but Morales was charged with two passed balls.

The converted infielder has earned playing time while Redmond has fought nagging injuries, and he has produced his own hot streak at the plate. After going 1 for 4 against the Ray, Morales is hitting .361, and while he doesn't have much power, he's sparking rallies at the bottom of the lineup.

He's been so good that Gardenhire said it's not a foregone conclusion that Morales would be optioned to Class AAA Rochester when Joe Mauer returns at the end of this week. Of course, no manager tells a player he's been demoted before it actually happens.

quot;No one's made that announcement. I'm not sending him down anywhere right now,quot; Gardenhire said. quot;He's going to catch all of these three games, and we'll see where we're at when Joe gets back.quot;

Gomez departing: Carlos Gomez was out of the lineup again on Monday, the fourth time in five games, and he's not expected to play again before Friday. That's because Gomez has a plane ticket this morning to Florida, where he will join his wife, Gerandy, for the birth of their first child. He's expected back on Friday, Gardenhire said.

It's difficult to keep focus under such circumstances, and Gomez's .195 start to the season probably doesn't help. But the center fielder said he isn't letting one circumstance affect the other.

quot;When I'm at the plate, I'm only thinking (about the) pitcher,quot; Gomez said. quot;Get on base, help the team.quot; He said he's not thinking about his wife or parenthood.

Still, Gardenhire said he believes the impending birth is rightly overshadowing Baseball at the moment.

quot;He's had a lot on his mind, and this is huge. You can see it -- he's worried because of the language barrier,quot; Gardenhire said. quot;He's very excited, and he should be.quot;

Rehab projects: Jesse Crain threw in the bullpen Monday before joining his teammates on the field for batting practice, and he will begin a throwing program today designed to have him ready to return when his 15 days on the disabled list expire Sunday.

quot;Right now everything feels good,quot; Gardenhire said. The soreness that sidelined Crain quot;wasn't in his shoulder, it was some ligaments in his back that he strained a little bit. But he feels good again.quot;

Mauer went 1 for 2 with two walks for Class A Fort Myers on Monday, and will catch for a second consecutive day today. All remains on schedule, Gardenhire said, for a Friday return.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 28, 2009

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