A quick spin around the AL Central…
- After two uncharacteristically weak offensive seasons, Twins first baseman Joe Mauer is turning back the clock to his MVP-contending days so far this year. Mauer is hitting a tremendous .333/.461/.467 in 76 plate appearances with 14 walks against only five strikeouts, and he’s swinging at a far lower rate of pitches outside the strike zone than he did last season (18.2 percent versus 27.6 percent in 2015). Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press details one potential reason for Mauer’s 180 in performance: strobe glasses. Nike sent the glasses to Mauer in the offseason, and he now uses them in the indoor batting cage before each game. “It makes it a lot tougher visually for you to see the ball because you only get pictures of it,” Mauer said. “The strobes can go faster or slower. We only do it off the tee or flips — short toss. When you take them off, it seems to slow it down actually so you can focus in on the ball.” Twins hitting coach Tom Brunansky tried the glasses and quickly bought into their usefulness, per Berardino. “It makes you keep your head still and keep your head back,” he stated.
- The Tigers announced that outfielder Cameron Maybin – on the shelf since early March with a fractured hand – will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo on Saturday. Maybin will likely play three to five games before re-evaluation, manager Brad Ausmus said (Twitter link via Jason Beck of MLB.com). Detroit acquired Maybin over the offseason with the hope that he’d serve as part of the solution in center field, which has mostly belonged to Anthony Gose in his absence. Gose has been a non-factor offensively so far this season, hitting .200/.289/.275 in 45 PAs. As a member of the Braves last season, Maybin compiled a much better .267/.327/.370 line in 555 PAs, also chipping in 10 home runs and 23 steals on 29 attempts.
- Indians right-hander Cody Anderson could be pitching to retain his spot in the rotation in his next start, according to Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Anderson beat out Trevor Bauer for a rotation job during Spring Training and has opened the season with a 7.53 ERA/7.51 FIP/4.89 xFIP in three starts (14 1/3 innings). Anderson’s next scheduled start is Tuesday in Minnesota, and if he doesn’t significantly improve on his last two outings – during which he allowed 10 earned runs in 8 1/3 innings – he could end up in Triple-A and Bauer would replace him in the rotation. Despite Bauer’s 10 strikeouts in eight innings out of the Indians’ bullpen, he hasn’t been overly effective this season. The 25-year-old has yielded four earned runs, nine hits and four walks thus far.