Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau Leading by Example

J. Meric

Both of the Minnesota Twins' franchise cornerstones, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, have yet to miss a game in 2013.

You wouldn't know it from looking at the roster on paper, but the 2013 Minnesota Twins haven't been too bad this season. They've won a couple of unexpected games, there have been a few unexpected performances, and sure there's been a little bit of luck, but right now you'd be hard pressed to find a Twins fan anywhere who isn't happy with the team's current 9-8 record.

Kevin Correia deserves as much credit as any pitcher on the roster. He's been outstanding. The Twins are also 5-0 in one-run ballgames, which is a statistic that is likely to level out over time (although last year's Orioles rode a 29-9 record in one-run games to the playoffs). Eduardo Escobar (12-for-25) and Pedro Florimon (.405 OBP) have been surprisingly adept and productive in their roles at the plate.

Also deserving of notice are the franchise stalwarts, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. In a season that many feel is lost, and in a season in which many feel will be Morneau's final campaign with the Twins, both players have started in all 17 games this season.

It can be easy to justify. With so many games off in the last week or so, you'd expect your star players to be in the lineup.

The counterpoint is that we're used to seeing Mauer and Morneau rested. They have both always wanted to play; there are endless quotes to be found about how each would like to play everyday. But Mauer's legs and worries about his future as a catcher have limited him behind the plate in the last couple of seasons, and Morneau's concussion and post-concussion symptoms have forced the Twins to make the (correct and justified) decision to be conservative with his playing time the last couple years.

Yet here they are. Seventeen for seventeen. Leading by example in every game. Leading their team, and it is their team, into the 2013 season with playing time to finally match their determination and fortitude. The team needs both players in the lineup if they're going to have any chance of staying competitive this season, and so far they've done exactly that.

It may not be much in the context of the whole season. That story is yet to be written. But it's something to appreciate, and at this early junction of the year it means something. When things get rough they'll be the first ones into the breach to take the lumps, and that's exactly how it should be.

Long live the M&M boys.

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