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Twins’ Joe Mauer not to blame for steals, Gardenhire says, pitchers are

Ben Goessling, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn. –

Joe Mauer entered the Minnesota Twins’ game on Thursday, Aug, 30, having thrown out just six of the 54 runners who tried to steal on him this season. But the Twins don’t appear concerned with the catcher’s arm strength, and manager Ron Gardenhire said the numbers point to a larger problem.

Like most major league teams, the Twins want their pitchers using quick deliveries to the plate to hold runners. Anything under 1.3 seconds is seen as acceptable, but Gardenhire said several Twins pitchers take 1.4 or 1.5 seconds to get the ball to the catcher, robbing Mauer of time to throw out a runner.

The Twins stopped keeping track of caught-stealing percentages by catchers several years ago, choosing to record the stat for pitchers instead. The numbers suggest a larger problem: No Twins starting pitcher has stopped more than 33 percent of potential base stealers.

Even strong-armed catcher Drew Butera has thrown out just 25 percent of potential base stealers.

Gardenhire said Mauer, who has thrown out 11 percent, has been catching pitches flat-footed, which has forced him to stand up and throw, but an adjustment there probably wouldn’t matter as much as pitchers being quicker to the plate.

“A guy can’t come to the big leagues and throw the ball with a 1.4- or a 1.35-(second delivery),” Gardenhire said. “They have to be better than that. That needs to be worked on all the way up so when they get here, they have a slide-step (delivery) down towards a 1.2.”

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