Mauermania


Mauer gets closer to running

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

Twins catcher Joe Mauer has been more and more active this week as he works his way back from a sore sacroiliac joint.

He’s spent this week catching bullpen sessions at the team’s year-round headquarters at Fort Myers, Fla. He’ll take a big step tonight when he catches Scott Baker’s bullpen session, take batting practice with the Miracle and take infield.

Baker will start on Friday in what the Twins hope will be proof that his shoulder soreness is completely gone. If all goes well, Baker will join the Twins next week.

As for Mauer, it appears that he’s getting closer to running. How close? The word I heard was, “soon.”

“He’s not running yet. I have not seen it,” said Jim Rantz, the Twins director of minor leagues, who is in Fort Myers. “He’s doing everything else. Maybe this will be the last thing he does before he starts that.”

The following is all speculation, but once Mauer runs, and if he has no setbacks, it shouldn’t be too long before he tries to play in games down there. He’s been riding a bike and hitting the elliptical, so it’s not like he’s been totally dormant. The question is how long it would take him to get up to game speed - because machines can only do so much. 

Clarification: I was reminded a few moments ago that Mauer also has been running in a pool, which really gives him a good workout while reducing the pounding on his back. In fact, if he’s cleared to play in minor league games it might come down to how many at-bats he feels he needs before telling the club he’s ready to go.

The Twins believe Mauer will play before the month is over. I think Twins fans should pretend he’s out until the end of April and be surprised if he comes back before that.

My wild guess: Apr. 27 vs Tampa Bay at the Dome.

 I’m at the Dome to work ahead on weekend stuff. Joe C. has the game. In fact, he’s just appeared with the lineup sheet, so you might want to swing over to his site…..

Twins Cut Five Players

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Outfielder Jason Pridie was optioned to Class AAA Rochester on Friday.

Lefthander, Sean Henn, righthander Bobby Keppel, infielder Brock Peterson and outfielder David Winfree, all who aren’t on the 40-man roster, have been reassigned to the minor league camp.

That leaves the Twins with 34 active players – but that includes the soon-to-be-placed-on-the-disabled list Boof Bonser and Joe Mauer. So the Twins need to cut eight players before breaking camp.

Jose Mijares survived the cut. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he had been optioned but, this way, he can keep working with Rick Anderson.

Mauer update: Heard that Joe Mauer might have caught in the bullpen yesterday. Still looking into that. He did appear in the clubhouse this morning to grab a glove to go play a little catch.

It just so happened that Joe C. and I were scheming while standing in front of Mauer’s stall when he came out of nowhere.

“What, are you guys staking me out?” he asked.

“No,” I replied, “but I could say that Joe and I usually stand in the areas of the clubhouse where there’s never anyone around.”

Mauer (laughing): “That’s means I’m somewhere working.”

Then off Mauer went. To work.

Lineups

Rays

1. Akinori Iwamura, 2B
2. Carl Crawford, LF
3. Evan Longoria, 3B
4. Pat Burrell, RF
5. Matt Joyce, DH
6. Gabe Kapler, CF
7. Shawn Riggans, C
8. Morgan Ensberg, 1B
9. Jason Bartlett, SS

Pitching: James Shields

Twins

1. Denard Span, LF
2. Alexi Casilla, 2B
3. Joe Crede, 3B
4. Justin Morneau, 1B
5. Jason Kubel, DH
6. Michael Cuddyer, RF
7. Carlos Gomez, CF
8. Jose Morales, C
9. Nick Punto, SS

Pitching: Scott Baker

Others scheduled: Craig Breslow, Brian Duensing, Matt Guerrier

Extra pitchers: Anthony Slama, Zach Ward

Mauer: Little chance for Opening Day

Friday, March 20th, 2009

Twins GM Bill Smith announced a few minutes ago that every doctor who has been consulted on Joe Mauer’s lower back pain concurs that he has inflammation of the sacroiliac joint – the joint that connects the bottom of the spine to the top of the pelvis.

 “All the doctors have conferred and have spoken together and have given us a treatment program for Joe, which we are going to follow, which hopefully will reduce the inflammation and get him back on the field as soon as we can,” Smith said.

Update: Mauer has pretty much ruled himself out for Opening Day, which has  been speculated about but something no one with the club wanted to address. Mauer admitted that it’s, “frustrating,” that it has taken so long to heal and that he’s been unable to learn why he has soreness there in the first place. Will add quotes later.

When asked if it’s doubtful that he would be ready for Opening Day, he said: “Yeah, I just have to get healthy. I don’t think I’m ready to get out there and play any games. I know it’s getting closer. I really don’t know if I’m going to be there or not.”

Smith said the club had reached out to specialists in the Twin Cities a few weeks ago in addition to sending Mauer to see a highly-regarded specialist in Baltimore. A source with knowledge of Mauer’s case said the specialist is based at Johns Hopkins University.

 What’s still not known is when Mauer will get back on the field (one week? two? more?). While the Twins haven’t been told that Mauer’s condition is a long-term or chronic problem, no one knows how fast the medication will reduce the inflammation. With Opening Day just over two weeks away, the Twins probably will have to look at prospects Drew Butera or Jose Morales to support veteran Mike Redmond at the position until Mauer is ready to play.

“There’s not a timetable right now to say when he is going to be on the field,” Smith said. “This is the right treatment for now. We have to get the inflammation down  before we turn him loose.”

Smith said that a cortisone shot is not under consideration. He would not what, if any, medication Mauer was taking during the consultation process.

What’s known is that Mauer has been working out at the Lee County Sports Complex while doctors conferred. And he’s been able to increase the intensity in recent days.

When asked what Mauer’s mood is, Smith said: “He’s looking forward to get this chapter behind him.

Twins continue to wait for word about Mauer

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

Twins GM Bill Smith told us a little while ago that he had not heard anything about Joe Mauer’s visit to Baltimore to see a specialist about his sore lower back.

Mauer was due back in Fort Myers this evening, so perhaps the Twins will know more by tomorrow at the latest.

Mauer has been unable to play all spring training because of inflammation in his right sacroiliac joint, which connects the lower back and pelvis. Mauer began feeling pain late last season, and a MRI revealed a kidney obstruction that was believed to be the reason for the pain. But the pain has persisted despite the kidney surgery being successful.

Smith was asked if he was getting nervous

“Long term? No.’’ he said. “No one has given me any reason to be and I hope they never do.’’

I know there’s a report out there about the Twins being interested in a certain former All-Star catcher – one who is now known for calling good games, I might add. I have not heard anything here about interest in him. That’s not to shoot it down totally, but it would make more sense for the Twins to wait to hear about Mauer’s visit to Baltimore before they start looking around for catching help.

And, as of now, there is nothing the Twins have heard that suggests Mauer will be out a long time.

Waiting for Mauer news

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Joe C. and I blitzed the clubhouse this morning to see if Joe Mauer was coming in for any kind of treatment (there were rumors that he was), but the clubhouse, batting cages and a gate to the field were all locked.

Moments later, someone with the club told me that Mauer was not coming in. So we’ll have to wait a day to get his thoughts of the latest developments as he recovers from kidney surgery.

It did give us time to produce the latest reporter’s notebook, which will be posted on our website sometime this afternoon. You won’t need any hints to guess what today’s topic is!

Someone on this blog asked for more information about kidney obstructions. If order for us to get into that subject, we would need more information from Mauer. He’s provided few details and, frankly, he has the right to disclose as much information as he wants.

For background, check out this story. After reading this, I’m not sure I want to hear all the gory details!