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How Joe Mauer helped indirectly shape Jameson Taillon’s career

1 year agoTony Andracki

Joe Mauer and Jameson Taillon have never played together.

Both players were drafted at the very front of the 1st round — Mauer was selected 1st overall in 2001 while Taillon was drafted 2nd overall in 2010 — but their paths have never intersected. Mauer spent his entire career with the Twins organization whereas Taillon has pitched for the Pirates and Yankees before signing with the Cubs this offseason.

Yet the way Mauer went about his business has left a lasting impact on Taillon…indirectly.

When Taillon was coming up through the Pirates farm system, the organization had some of the big league players come down to the minor league camp and answer questions, give advice, etc.

One year, Garrett Jones was the guest for the minor leaguers. The former first baseman/outfielder started his career with the Twins playing alongside Mauer before spending 2009-13 in Pittsburgh.

“I just asked the question, ‘what was it like being around Joe Mauer?'” Taillon recounted in an interview on Cubs 360 recently. “And he said, ‘everything he did was calculated. From the moment he woke up, he knows how much water he’s putting in his body, he knows exactly what he’s eating, he knows what he’s working on that day. If he’s hitting batting practice, every swing has a purpose.’

“That was the best advice I had ever gotten was him talking about being around Joe Mauer. So that really stuck out to me. After that, I was like, ‘alright, I want to really measure my bullpens, what I’m working on. I want to be really intentional about everything that I do. That’s kinda leaked over into my everyday life from my offseason workouts, my throwing programs, plyo ball drills, the way I like to cook, the way I make coffee.

“I’m not overly obsessive over every little thing in my life but I would just say when it comes to important things, having a purpose behind what you’re doing. If you’re playing catch but you have a purpose behind it, you can always get better. Just hearing him talk about Joe Mauer stuck out to me.”

Mauer is a 6-time All-Star, 3-time batting champ and won the AL MVP in 2009. He is likely ticketed for the Hall of Fame in the next couple years.

Taillon’s career hasn’t been as seamless, as the right-hander has been dealt tough blows with cancer and a pair of Tommy John surgeries on his elbow.

But he’s hoping to continue to carry that advice from Mauer into his time in Chicago. It helps that he felt like it was a great fit with the Cubs after meeting with VP of pitching and assistant general manager Craig Breslow during the interview process.

“I would say really the No. 1 thing that I left that conversation thinking was: I know how to take the ball and be a pretty solid major league starter every fifth day but he made me feel like they want to help me reach that next level and that lines up with where I’m at,” Taillon said. “I really, truly feel like I have more to offer and more to give. I’m hungry to learn it. I want to be coached. I want to be coached hard. I want to find that potential and after leaving that meeting, I was just kind of inspired.

“I might be 31 years old but I feel like I can get better deeper into my career. I want to learn, I want to get better and it seems like they kind of want to push me in that direction also. So that really aligned for me.”

In the story about Mauer, Taillon also alluded to his coffee hobby — something he shares with new teammate Ian Happ. The two met during the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations last spring while serving as the player reps for their respective teams.

After the meeting, Happ asked Taillon for his address and shipped some of his own coffee — Connect Roasters — to the then-Yankees pitcher.

Taillon first got into coffee as a minor leaguer, when he would drink it just to stay awake and alert. As he ventured around the country on long bus rides, he began to learn more about coffee from all the shops in small towns and, later, in big cities in the majors.

“I started buying my own equipment and doing it at home and stuff,” Taillon said. “That became kind of the hobby also, going to all these coffee shops and now in the big leagues, every city we go to, I buy a bag of coffee from a local coffee shop and take it home and brew it. I’ve got all the gadgets — maybe too many gadgets. I have fun with it. It’s a cool hobby.”

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