Mauer To Return To Manage Kernels in 2014

By Jeff Johnson, Reporter

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By KCRG Sports

CEDAR RAPIDS - Jake Mauer didn't win the argument. He's smart enough to know husbands rarely do.

Mauer tried and tried to convince his wife, Rachel, to have doctors tip off the sex of their baby, due in February. Just like a good manager, huh?

Be fully prepared for everything. Have all the information you can, don't deal with any surprises.

"Yep, lost on that battle," Mauer said with a laugh late Friday afternoon.

It'll be a very busy late winter/early spring for the soon-to-be father of three. A baby sometime in February and a trip to Fort Myers, Fla., less than a month later to get ready for the 2014 baseball season.

The parent Minnesota Twins officially announced Friday that the 34-year-old will return for a second year as skipper of the Cedar Rapids Kernels.

"We're excited to come back," Mauer said.

"We" is he and hitting coach Tommy Watkins. Ivan Arteaga will be the club's new pitching coach, replacing Gary Lucas, who will be at high-Class A Fort Myers this season.

"I've talked to Tommy already, and we're locked and loaded, ready to come back," Mauer said. "It's sad to see Luke go, but I've been with Ivan Arteaga for a couple of years in the Gulf Coast League, and he'll be an excellent, outstanding pitching coach. We're going to have a very solid staff."

Now all they need to do is top what they did in 2013. The Kernels won 88 regular-season games, second-most in modern club history.

A plethora of top talent came through Veterans Memorial Stadium, including outfielder Byron Buxton, recently announced as Minor League Baseball's player of the year. The 2013 could mash the ball, leading the Midwest League in runs and home runs.

It's impossible to know the 2014 roster at this point, but an early scouting report shows it'll likely be pitching, and not hitting, that will be the Kernels' strength. Rookie-level Elizabethton, the club directly below the Kernels in the Twins' minor-league hierarchy, finished 37-31, leading the Appalachian League with a 3.10 earned run average.

E-Town had some good young arms, many of them from Latin America, which could explain why Arteaga, who is from Venezuela, is moving from Fort Myers to Cedar Rapids.

"They had three or four starters that put up some very good numbers," Mauer said. "And our pitching here really improved the second half of the season. Pitching probably will be our strength."

Mauer said he'll always fondly recall his first Kernels team. It lost to champion Quad Cities in the first round of the Midwest League playoffs.

"That was a lot of fun, no doubt," he said. "We had a lot of talented players. They came together and did very, very well."

The Kernels' season opener is April 3 at home against Clinton.

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