* If it seems like Joe Mauer's been hitting the ball into the ground a lot this season, it's because he has. According to FanGraphs, a whopping 80 percent of the catcher's balls in play thus far have been grounders.
It comes as no surprise, then, that his double off the right field wall in the eighth inning Sunday was Mauer's first extra-base hit of the season. Not an encouraging start for a guy who saw his home run total drop from 28 to nine last year.
As Jon Krawczynski notes, the Twins' backstop is trying to work through some early kinks in his swing.
* The Orioles placed J.J. Hardy on the disabled list over the weekend with a strained oblique, just after I posted an article on Friday ridiculing the "injury-prone" label that has been (in my opinion) unjustly attached to him and so many other players.
Naturally, this led to many emails, tweets and comments poking fun at me. There's nothing wrong with that; I can certainly admit that the timing is pretty humorous.
But I think these people are missing the point. I never suggested that Hardy would not get hurt this year -- only that anyone can get hurt. Yes, he's been placed on the disabled list. So has Nick Punto. So has Tsuyoshi Nishioka. So will many other players over the course of the season.
In major-league baseball, injuries are frequent, and that's why it's important to have strong depth.
Hardy is no iron man, that's for sure. But if you're going to try and convince me that he was somehow more predisposed than the average player to suffer a strained oblique -- an ailment that he's never dealt with before -- just because he's experienced a variety of unrelated injuries over the past two seasons, you're not very likely to succeed.
* Trevor Plouffe opened his season at Triple-A by earning International League Batter of the Week honors. The shortstop went 8-for-18 (.444) in Rochester's first four games, hitting three homers and two doubles over the weekend.
If Plouffe keeps up his hot start, he'll increasingly be mentioned as a potential replacement for Alexi Casilla, who's looked dreadful in early action for the Twins. I'd note that while Plouffe's power is intriguing -- especially for a middle infielder -- his on-base skills and defensive aptitude are questionable. Much like with Luke Hughes, we shouldn't allow a brief power-hitting streak to skew our perceptions of him as a ballplayer.
When given his chance to make an impression on the big-league coaching staff this spring, Plouffe hardly took advantage, hitting just .206 while committing a team-high five errors in Grapefruit League play.