FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It was big news in these parts when agent Ron Shapiro parachuted into Minnesota Twins camp, presumably for meetings with the team's brass Thursday, prompting speculation that catcher Joe Mauer was about to finalize an extension with the club.
How big is Mauer in Minnesota? The cover of the team's 2010 media guide features a photo of Target Field, the team's new outdoor ballpark -- The House That Joe Built -- with a larger-than-life Mauer hovering over the field, cerulean sky behind him.
"Somebody said that all that was missing was a halo," one Twins official said. "It looks like Joe just came back from having a conversation with God."
Alas, no deal was announced Thursday, the Twins showing up at City of Palms Park for their spring-opening exhibition game against the Red Sox without Mauer in tow. "Unless you see me leaving for my car in the fourth inning," said Twins director of baseball communications Mike Herman, "it's pretty safe to say nothing will happen tonight."
With considerably less fanfare, Victor Martinez is in the same position with the Red Sox as Mauer is with the Twins, eligible for free agency after the season. Martinez said Wednesday that his agent, Scott Pucino, had been in and out of Sox camp already this spring, beneath the radar of the rabid Boston media, but that the purpose of his visit was not to commence talks on an extension.
"They all know what I want," said Martinez, who has made no secret of his desire to remain in Boston. "Let's see what happens."
Until the Cleveland Indians traded him to the Red Sox last July, Martinez had played in the same division as Mauer, the American League Central.
"I got to know him a little bit," Martinez said. "As catchers, we talked a lot when he came to hit, or I came to hit. We talked a lot. He's a great guy, man. He's awesome. Obviously, he's a great player, plus he has a pretty good attitude to play the game the right way. He always says 'Hi' to you. He's always smiling. And he's not an easy guy to get out, that's for sure."
Despite missing the first month of the season because of inflammation in his right sacroiliac joint near his hip, Mauer hit .365 last season to claim his third batting title in the past four seasons.
"What he did last season was amazing," Martinez said. "Everybody knows what he's capable of doing, but he was fun to watch."
Martinez sounds like every Twins fan when he says it's hard to imagine the Minnesota native playing for anyone but the hometown team.
"Obviously they tried to build the team around him and [Justin] Morneau," Martinez said, referring to the Twins' first baseman, who like Mauer has an MVP to his name. "It would be tough to see that team without him. It would be difficult without Joe."
Does Martinez think that could happen?
"You know what, man, I don't know what he wants, I don't know what the team wants. It's all up to them. I can't really say anything about that. Whatever they want to do."
Until his trade, Martinez always believed the Indians intended to build around him and center fielder Grady Sizemore. General manager Mark Shapiro essentially told him as much.
"I never thought I would leave that organization," he said. "[The trade] really came out pretty quick. But I understand the business. It's not [Shapiro's] fault. He just followed orders they gave to him, and it's not his fault. I really understand that part."
He says he also understands that the Red Sox may be waiting to see what happens with Mauer before they move on him.
"Why not?" he said. "He's a guy a lot of teams are going to go after. I'm OK with that. The only thing I can worry about is to be healthy, play the game hard and let things happen. I can't control anything after that."
The one component that clearly bothers Martinez in any discussion of his future is the notion that he would be regarded as anything but a catcher. Last season with the Indians, Martinez split his time almost evenly between catcher and first base, with 51 starts as catcher, 44 as first baseman.
"I consider myself a catcher," he said. "I have almost seven years in the league. If you look up my numbers, almost all I've done has been as a catcher. Because I played a few games at first base doesn't mean I'm a first baseman. I'm just all about my team. Wherever I play, I just play to win."
There's no telling how high the Twins may have to go to retain Mauer. The speculation has run as high as $280 million for a 10-year deal. There should be a trickle-down effect for Martinez, the next-best catcher available.
"You know what, whatever he's going to get he really deserves it," Martinez said. "He's earned it.
"I'm pretty excited, pretty happy for him. He's a nice guy. I wish the best for him. He deserves it all. It's going to come to him sooner or later."
For Martinez as well?
He smiled. "I can't control anything," he said. "What the [Red Sox] decide is their decision, not mine. I'm all about playing hard and helping the team win. Just go about my business and let things happen."
Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.