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Twins trainer says Joe Mauer “wasn’t strong enough” to start season as everyday catcher

Apr 28, 2011, 1:25 PM EDT

Minnesota Twins Workout Sessions Getty Images

How bad have the mounting injuries gotten for the Twins? Today they had trainer Rick McWane speak directly to the media because Ron Gardenhire was sick of answering all the health-related questions and the front office was likely sick of the manager giving non-expert half-information to frustrated reporters.

McWane gave an update on Joe Mauer‘s status, saying the former MVP will meet today with team doctors to determine his recovery timetable.

Mauer is eligible to be activated from the disabled list today, but is not close to returning from bilateral leg weakness and McWane admitted that he “wasn’t strong enough to handle everyday catching” coming out of spring training following offseason knee surgery.

He did anyway, starting nine of the first 10 games behind the plate while hitting just .235, but now Mauer is working to strengthen his legs before hopefully beginning a minor-league rehab assignment early next month. McWane told reporters that “the doctors are very confident that he is perfectly healthy other than the orthopedic soreness that he is currently experiencing.”

  1. BC - Apr 28, 2011 at 1:31 PM

    Yeah, and George Burns is perfectly healthy other than the fact that he’s dead. This does not bode well. $180 million dollars for a DH? Hmm….

    • Jeremiah Graves - Apr 28, 2011 at 3:16 PM

      …a DH who doesn’t hit for power.

  2. deathmonkey41 - Apr 28, 2011 at 1:35 PM

    If he needs to recover quicker- maybe Big Poppi can so show him where he got those HR enducing “Dominican Milkshakes” he had.

    • nixonotis - Apr 28, 2011 at 2:21 PM


  3. schrutebeetfarms - Apr 28, 2011 at 1:55 PM

    Thank you Captain Hindsight!
    If he wasn’t strong enough to handle everyday catching duties, then why was he catching? Why did all we hear in spring training was, how great he was doing and how ahead of schedule he was. Honestly, as a Twins fan, there’s nothing more agitating than the positive spin this team tries to put on everything, even when it’s obvious to anyone who isn’t a total rube that they’re trying to have it both ways.

    • minnesconsin - Apr 28, 2011 at 2:00 PM

      no one has said it better, my friend. the twins spin cycle is nausea-inducing. i’m going to the game tonight after the rainout earlier this week, and i’m starting to feel like these tickets are akin to snake oil.

  4. jamie54 - Apr 28, 2011 at 1:56 PM

    Spring training is when your players are supposed to be their strongest yet he has ‘leg weakness’? Did he have operations on both knees in the off season, or just one? Something fishy here.

  5. ThatGuy - Apr 28, 2011 at 1:59 PM

    Good thing we traded those two catchers that could actually hit. No we have a guy playing everyday that the Mendozza line is a break season for him…

  6. minnesconsin - Apr 28, 2011 at 2:01 PM

    ps, how badly do i miss jose morales right now?

  7. cur68 - Apr 28, 2011 at 2:15 PM

    Mauer got the double whammy; surgery followed by a nasty flu. That leg weakness is probably the old bambi legs you get with a high fever, enlarged lymph nodes and weight loss. He’s over the fever, the lymph nodes are going down but he’s lost a lot of weight. The surgical site probably feels worse because of the lymph nodes behind the knee increasing the pressure there and the catching he’d been doing that he never should have done.

    I think Gardenhire got talked into letting him catch against his better judgement and now really regrets letting Mauer get behind the plate. I agree; the Twins need a stud catcher, but before the season started I said Joe Mauer will never be that guy again. I think that’s still the case and that is a tragedy. I would love to be wrong, really love it. I like Mauer a lot; he’s good for baseball and a nice kid. But the sooner everyone faces up to him as a non-catcher and gets on board with him on first or as DH the better off the Twins will be in the long run, not to mention Mauer.

    • BC - Apr 28, 2011 at 2:57 PM

      Either that or his back is screwed up. That’ll do it as well.

      • cur68 - Apr 28, 2011 at 3:23 PM

        True; a balky back can produce the leg weakness. Specifically bulging/slipped lumbar discs. If that’s the case he needs treatment, not just rest and AAA starts. Its pretty standard treatment and he’d be gone till July if not longer. So far they hare handling this just like if it’s the flu, severe weight loss, and a sore post op knee. I sure hope that’s all it is.

    • jamie54 - Apr 28, 2011 at 5:10 PM

      And I agree completely with that assessment. Flu seems to be going around the whole MLB and it definitely will give you the wobbles. Guy’s a stud, hope he comes back and rakes.

  8. sanzarq - Apr 28, 2011 at 3:20 PM

    You’d think after the Twins gave Mauer that gargantuan pile of money, that someone in their organization would have sense enough to maximize this investment by insuring that he was ready to play.

    This is a deal that the TWINS will come to regret. Joe will be playing left field in a few years and they traded away the more bonafide catching prospect than Mauer ever was.

  9. mplsjoe - Apr 28, 2011 at 7:51 PM

    The trouble with the arguments for changing Mauer’s position is that Mauer’s value comes as a catcher. That is, compared to other catchers, Mauer’s offense is off-the-charts good, and his D is above-average. Combine that with intangibles and you get the reason Mauer has the contract he does.

    But make Mauer a 1B, or heaven-forbid a DH, or even an OF, and his offensive value (even if his stats remain the same) and defensive value plummet.

    The Twins are in a bind. They had to give Mauer his contract – letting him walk would have been unforgivable and they would not have recovered. That said, it’s hard to envision him as a catcher in 10 years. The best they can do is make sure he’s healthy enough to catch 140 games a year. And, at that, they’re failing.

  10. jwbiii - Apr 28, 2011 at 10:41 PM

    “they traded away the more bonafide catching prospect than Mauer ever was.”


    Joe Mauer
    Prospect Ratings by Baseball America:
    Pre-2002: Rated #7 Prospect
    Pre-2003: Rated #4 Prospect
    Pre-2004: Rated #1 Prospect
    Pre-2005: Rated #1 Prospect

    Wilson Ramos
    Prospect Ratings by Baseball America:
    Pre-2009: Rated #71 Prospect
    Pre-2010: Rated #58 Prospect
    Pre-2011: Rated #96 Prospect

    Jose Morales
    Prospect Ratings by Baseball America:
    Never ranked.

    Can you find a catching prospect in the last decade who was more highly regarded than Joe Mauer?

    Yes, the Twins could use a better backup catcher. Yes, Matt Capps might not have been an adequate return for Wilson Ramos, but the Twins felt the need for an experienced closer. That’s the nature of trading spare parts for something you need at the time. Sometimes this year you need the spare part you traded last year more than what you acquired.

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