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Another milestone for Mauer as he mulls retirement

September 25, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS -- Joe Mauer will wait until the offseason to announce whether he intends to keep playing or retire, but the possibility remains that this could be his last week in a Twins uniform.Mauer, a six-time All-Star, three-time American League batting champ and the 2009 AL MVP, is wrapping up

MINNEAPOLIS -- Joe Mauer will wait until the offseason to announce whether he intends to keep playing or retire, but the possibility remains that this could be his last week in a Twins uniform.
Mauer, a six-time All-Star, three-time American League batting champ and the 2009 AL MVP, is wrapping up his 15th season with the Twins, and hasn't given an indication yet on his plans for the future. The 35-year-old St. Paul native will either remain with Minnesota or retire after a highly decorated career, but Twins manager Paul Molitor said he hasn't heard from Mauer about his eventual decision.
"It's always a little strange to answer when you don't know the future," Molitor said. "And so out of respect [for] Joe, you don't try to get too deep into that. But it's going to be fun to watch him play. I'm hoping there's a little sense of acknowledgement each and every time he steps on that field, from however many fans come out to games this week. But yeah, it's a little strange knowing that with everything kind of hanging in the balance, that we're going to watch Joe play this week."
Mauer reached yet another milestone against the Tigers on Tuesday, as he set the Twins franchise record for most times to reach base safely in a career, getting on base for the 3,073rd time with a leadoff single in the first. He passed Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew's total of 3,072 times on base and received a standing ovation from the crowd at Target Field. He received the ball after the game and the Twins also will keep first base to add to their collection of artifacts.
"When you mention Harmon and you mention Kirby [Puckett] and mention Tony [Oliva], and some of the other greats, to be up there with them is very special and humbling," said Mauer, who reached base three times in a 4-2 loss. "It was a nice moment."
Mauer had a resurgent 2017, but hasn't been able to replicate that this season, hitting .278/.346/.375 with six homers and 25 doubles in 121 games, entering Tuesday. But he's still a Gold Glove-caliber defender at first and is universally respected in the clubhouse given his demeanor and all that he's accomplished over his career.
"The professionalism, the performance, the things he's done here in his hometown community for a number of years -- it's just been the full package," Molitor said. "Everything that we can ask for Joe, he's always been there to do it."
Mauer has reached several other milestones this year, including getting his 2,000th hit and scoring his 1,000th run. The former No. 1 overall pick in the 2001 Draft is a career .306/.388/.439 hitter with 143 homers, 426 doubles and 921 RBIs in 1,851 games. He also won five Silver Slugger Awards and three Gold Gloves back when he was catching before he suffered a career-altering concussion in 2013 that forced him to move to first base.
"Since Day 1, coming out as that No. 1 pick and his short ascent to the big leagues and the things he's been able to do, it's quite a resume," Molitor said. "We just have to find out whether we are getting near the end of it or if it is going to be extended."
Molitor, though, said he doesn't anticipate Mauer to do anything in the final week that will tip off his plans for the future such as a special salute to the crowd during the final game on Sunday.
"I don't even know if that's been talked about or in the works," Molitor said. "I don't think Joe is going to want to do anything that signifies his intention."
Mauer, though, said he plans to play every day this week, but likely not in both games of Friday's doubleheader.
"I've always prided myself on being available and getting out there and playing," Mauer said. "This will be no different. I'd like to play every one of them."
Worth noting
• Third baseman Miguel Sano still hasn't been ruled out from returning this week from his left knee injury, but they're still trying to find the source of his discomfort. Sano injured his knee sliding into second on Sept. 4 and returned in Detroit on Sept. 18, only to return to the Twin Cities for more testing.
"I'm not giving up," Molitor said. "Miggy is still not symptom-free from some of the things that are concerning so we're just going to continue to address that the best that we can. If I get something finalized about yes or no, I'll let you guys know as soon as I find out."
• Left fielder Eddie Rosario will miss the rest of the season with a left quad strain, which he aggravated in Detroit on Sept. 17. Rosario finishes with a .288/.323/.479 slash line with 24 homers and 77 RBIs in 138 games.

• Catcher Mitch Garver, who suffered a concussion on a foul tip on Sept. 12, passed his concussion protocol and could return as a designated hitter or pinch-hitter this week. But Molitor said Garver will not catch again this year.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.