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story.lead_photo.caption Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins is accompanied at first base by his twin daughters before Sunday’s game against the Chicago White Sox in Minneapolis. Mauer, the subject of retirement talk, hasn’t said whether he’ll return next season.

Was Sunday the final game for Joe Mauer?

The Minnesota Twins veteran, who played catcher from 2004-2013 before moving to first base in 2014, went 1 for 4 with a double in Sunday's 5-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox at Target Field in Minneapolis.

There has been speculation as to whether Mauer will retire. He hasn't made a decision yet, but after Sunday's game in which he went behind the plate for one pitch, Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune in Minneapolis believes Mauer has made his decision.

"Joe Mauer insists he has not decided whether he will retire. Now he has no choice," Souhan wrote.

"You don't rewrite the ending to Casablanca. You can't improve on perfection. Sunday afternoon, in what may have been his last game, Mauer and his friends authored the best baseball screenplay since The Natural, turning the last three innings of the Twins' season finale into a one-man, two-act play commemorating one of the great careers in franchise history.

"Mauer could come back, could play a role, but he will never play one as poignant as the one he helped write Sunday, when the Twins did everything they could, short of adding curtains, to turn Target Field into a stage.

"His father had wondered about Mauer catching one more time, and his wife had agreed, as long as he didn't have to take a foul ball and risk triggering the concussion symptoms that have plagued him.

"[Twins Manager Paul] Molitor, Twins equipment manager Rod McCormick, traveling secretary Mike Herman and bullpen catcher Nate Dammann, among others, worked on a plan to allow Mauer to catch. Just one pitch.

"Molitor asked White Sox Manager Rick Renteria if he would have the first hitter in the top of the ninth take one pitch. Molitor promised it would be a ball.

"Max Kepler made the last out in the bottom of the eighth and began jogging toward right field. His teammates called him back. After a long pause, Mauer emerged from the dugout, the only player on the field, and held his helmet aloft and patted his chest while the crowd stood and cheered.

"Mauer caught one pitch, walked to the mound to embrace Matt Belisle, and headed to the dugout.

"Mauer conducted a news conference after the game, which was shown, tape-delayed, in the Twins clubhouse. All of the players sat in front of his locker, watching, and when Mauer returned they burst into applause.

"Don't try to top this, Joe. Don't try to top the perfect ending."

Mountain milestone

Two American climbers have successfully skied down from the summit of the world's fourth-highest mountain, organizers said Monday.

James Morrison of Tahoe, Calif., and Hilaree Nelson of Telluride, Colo., scaled Mount Lhotse's 27,940-foot summit on Sunday with two other climbers and three Nepalese Sherpa guides in Nepal, said Pemba Sherpa of Xtreme Climbers Treks and Expeditions.

Morrison and Nelson then descended down the mountain on their skis.

They were both safe and were expected to reach the base camp later Monday.

It's believed to be the first time anyone has skied down from Mount Lhotse, a sister peak of Mount Everest. Climbers attempting to scale Everest and Lhotse share most of the route.

They were the only teams in the Lhotse-Everest region this autumn as most climbers prefer the spring season in April and May for scaling the peaks.

Sports on 10/02/2018

Print Headline: If that's it, perfect end for Mauer

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