MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — On the disabled list with another leg problem, Minnesota Twins All-Star catcher Joe Mauer says he has no plans to make a position change anytime soon.

Mauer has been out since April 15 with bilateral leg weakness, a condition team doctors say was brought on by a light workload in spring training while he worked his way back from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. The latest struggles have renewed the debate about the three-time AL batting champion moving to another position to keep his bat in the lineup.

Mauer said Thursday that he is determined to stay right where he is.

“I just think I can help the team a lot better when I’m behind the plate,” said Mauer, who is in the first season of an eight-year, $184 million contract. “That’s what I signed here to do is to catch. I think we’re a better ballclub when I’m behind the plate.”

Mauer had surgery in December and he only played in eight games during spring training with the hopes that it would keep his legs fresh for the grind of catching in the regular season.

Twins head athletic trainer Rick McWane said the soreness Mauer is experiencing is because his body just wasn’t strong enough at the start of the season.

“He, I don’t think, has had the repetitions either for catching or anything else,” McWane said. “Once the season started, he started to wear down.”

Mauer said he “really started to go downhill” after the second series of the season. His offense suffered for it, with a .235 average, no homers and four RBIs in nine games.

“I was out there fighting it and my body just said I couldn’t go anymore,” Mauer said. “It’s tough to admit that, especially with the things that guys play through. But it gets to a point where your body says you can’t go anymore.”

Mauer said he is making progress, but he has yet to resume baseball activities. He was eligible to come off the DL on Thursday, but there is no timetable for his return.

“He wasn’t strong enough to handle the everyday catching,” McWane said. “At the end of spring training, he said it was the best he had felt and he was doing fine. He didn’t have any issues with his knee at the end of spring training.”

Mauer also lost about a week with a bout of the flu that circulated through the clubhouse. The team initially thought Mauer’s soreness may have been partially from the illness, but McWane says that’s not the case.

“He had weakness and some soreness throughout his whole body, just from catching,” McWane said. “We had discussed that with him and we knew we needed to change some things up to get him stronger. And then, coincidentally, the same day he got sick with a virus.”

Second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka, on the disabled list with a broken left leg, will get a follow-up X-ray on Friday. McWane said doctors will decide the next step in his rehabilitation.

“He’s getting really close to turning it up a little bit,” McWane said. “So, that’s why we’re getting the X-ray, to see if we can push him through the next step.”

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (13)
  1. Keep says:

    Didn’t earn his keep last year.
    Wonder if he ever will this year?
    He needs to move to another position. Whether he likes it or not.

  2. merks says:

    so for 15 days of rehab and he still can’t play? I am sick and tired of the twins treating the players like they are soccer players. the slightest twinge and they are held out of a game or worse put on the DL. We have got to have the biggest marshmallows playing for the twins in the league.

  3. Sue says:

    That’s because Gardy is the one who babies his players and says we can’t take a chance on them to further there injury, what we need is a new coach and Mauer needs to play a different position if you want him to last, what a waste of 184 million dollars on a prone injury player.

  4. gatzby says:

    Win or lose I always enjoyed cheering for the Twins because they had great work ethic and did things the right way. This team is just sad. Errors, base running mistakes, terrible starting pitching, and unreliable relief pitching. Did these guys do anything during spring training?

  5. Al says:

    I have completely changed my mind about Mauer. He is an overpriced baby. Ron Gardenhoser is a completely overrated BUM! This is a lost season for the Twins, too bad.

  6. Bob says:

    Mauer and Morneau are a couple of cup cakes!

  7. John says:

    How can you stay at a position your not playing at?

  8. Sue says:

    First of all since when does the player dictate where he plays I thought that was up to the coach and the organization that is paying his salary.
    Second, Mauer states that he can help the team a lot better when he is behind the plate and that they are a better ball club when he is behind the plate so Mauer tell me how you are helping the team better when you are always injure and on the DL and hardly are behind the plate.
    Third, why did he wait so long to have surgery on his knee after the season, why not have it sooner like in October rather then waiting until December when spring training is just a couple of months after that and Gardenhose gives him light duty rather then building up his strength, Gardenhose is not a coach but rather a babysitter and will never win a championship.

  9. Steve says:

    I’m hoping the Twins are TERRIBLE this year so the scalpers who bought all the tickets to list on StubHub get burned and lose their money. Yes, that means you, ticket season holder who bought extra tickets just to flip them on StubHub. I hope you have to eat those extra tickets.

    As for “Iron Man Mauer” – he has the wrong build for catcher.

    The biggest loss for the Twins this year, though, is John Gordon.

  10. Al says:

    Sue, it’s the trainers that pretty much determine who is able to play and who isn’t. Not Gardie.
    Nishi with a broken foot, he has an excuse…
    Morneau, his 3rd concussion..they’re a b**** to come back from. At least he’s trying.
    Young, he’ll be back soon.
    Thome, first time hurt in years…
    Mauer, our million dollar baby. Twins are better with you catching??? NO SIR the Twins are better with you GONE!!!!!!

    1. Sue says:

      I was talking about position playing not playing in a game, it is up to the coach to decide where he wants his players to play not up to them so if Gardy says he wants Mauer to move to another position then he should have no choice he goes where the coach wants him to go just like Cuddyer playing all over the place.

  11. Jim says:

    I get that the Twins want him to be a catcher. If he was an outfielder or third baseman or something, he would be an average hitter and not worth the money they’re paying him. But he has proven that he can’t stay healthy behind the plate, and it’s just going to get worse as he gets older. So the Twins have to decide if they want a great-hitting but part-time catcher, or a good-hitting but mostly full-time outfielder. Either way, that contract is starting to look like a mistake.

  12. Al says:

    Gardenhoser is the problem. End of story.

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