Mauer's Teammates Laugh at Allegations Of 'Pitch-Tipping'
DETROIT -- Justin Morneau wants to know why Joe Mauer never gave him signs.
"I've been batting behind Joe for five years," Morneau said Thursday. "I haven't gotten a sign yet. I'm still waiting."
An amateur analysis on YouTube accused Mauer, the possible AL MVP, of tipping the catcher's signs from second base Tuesday.
But Jason Kubel, the hitter at the time, said he wasn't looking for the help.
"Not that I know of," Kubel said.
The YouTube video -- put together by a user named "rolemodel2008" who in an e-mail identified himself as Tony Faust of Maple Grove, Minn. -- alleges, with subtitles, that with Mauer on second base during Kubel's sixth-inning plate appearance against Detroit's Justin Verlander, Mauer touched his helmet in certain places to let Kubel know what was coming.
Kubel wound up hitting a sacrifice fly.
"Joe, even at first base, is always touching his face or his ear," Kubel said.
"It's hard to fit his head in that helmet, I guess," Morneau said.
Mauer declined interview requests before Thursday's game. Morneau was partly amused, partly annoyed at the accusations.
"I think it's funny," Morneau said, "but at the same time, you can look at anybody standing on second base and make the connection.
"That's funny because he's giving [Kubel] the fastball, and [Verlander] throws 100. He's not looking for the fastball?"
Manager Ron Gardenhire laughed at the topic.
"That's why we're three games back," he said. "We scored two runs last night. We're stealing a lot of signs."
Gardenhire shook his head.
"Chrysler! " he said. "You're giving people too much credit here boys."
There were a few problems with the allegations. With a runner on second base, catchers use a sequence of signs to disguise the pitch call. Runners can try to communicate location, but they know if they're not subtle, the defensive team will retaliate with inside pitches. At some points, Mauer doesn't even look at catcher Gerald Laird.
And Kubel, who watched the video Thursday morning and called it "funny," said it misidentified some of the pitches.
Responded Faust: "I'm just a fan of Mauer's, but I saw it plain as day in real time, so I recorded it on my iPhone and posted it. I am 100 percent confident that is what was going on, but obviously have no way to prove it. ... I just think it's interesting and love inside baseball.
"I didn't want Mauer to take heat for this, just wanted to point it out for people that he is trying REALLY hard to make the playoffs."
Of course, no one denies that there is sign-stealing, or at least attempts at it.
"I wish we could steal signs," Gardenhire said.
"If somebody is stealing your signs, then you're probably not doing a real good job protecting your signs."
Said Morneau: "Guys do it, but Joe's not one of them, I know that."