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Upward Mobility

Turns out Joe Mauer's endorsement deal with Land O' Lakes milk is appropriate. Joe's a growing boy.

A spring-training physical showed the Twins' All-Star catcher is now 6' 5", a full inch taller than he was last year. That isn't too unusual for a 23-year-old, but it is rare for a guy who makes his living crouching behind home plate.

Even at 6' 4", Mauer was tall for a catcher. "I don't agree that Mauer is a future star behind the plate, and it has everything to do with his height," wrote Joe Sheehan on BaseballProspectus.com in 2004. Sheehan's argument stemmed from a list he culled of all 6' 4" catchers in baseball history who had any sort of career. There were 22 of them, none memorable.

Sheehan was wrong, of course, and Mauer is a star. But the off-season growth-spurt puts him in even more exclusive company. At the time of Sheehan's writing, he also listed all of Major League Baseball's 6' 5" catchers. There were six.

Many teams move their tall catchers to other positions to reduce injury risk, something the Twins seem dead-set against. A stress-fracture scare on Mauer's left leg last week didn't even sway them. "History points out that there are many big catchers who caught for years and years," Twins general manager Terry Ryan told the Star Tribune.

He then ordered Mauer to drink another glass of milk.

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