Mauer already a franchise player 

June, 12, 2006
06/12/06
4:01
PM ET
Joe Mauer is sitting on Rod Carew numbers in Minnesota, which to anyone who has watched him is no surprise.

There never was much doubt that his astounding hitting skills -- his ability to spit on borderline pitches, drive balls hard to the opposite field, his intelligence -- would eventually make him a star. In fact, only a knee injury slowed his progress toward stardom.

Mauer is now, at the age of 23, the Twins' franchise player, and he will be so visibly when Torii Hunter is gone at the end of either the 2006 or 2007 seasons. Where he will be the franchise player is another issue. He's had the knee operation and some leg problems, and some on the Minnesota staff believe that eventually getting him out from behind the plate will free his legs and allow him to be a middle-of-the-order star.

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