Souhan: Back injury might be continuing to bother Mauer

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 19, 2014 - 11:49 AM
hide

Twins first baseman Joe Mauer hinted Sunday that the back injury that cost him five games in early May was serious and lingering.

Photo: Carlos Osorio, ASSOCIATED PRESS

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Joe Mauer rarely admits to frustration, but seven weeks into the season, he has looked less than comfortable at first base, hasn’t driven the ball with regularity or authority and is seeing his line drives consumed by opponents’ defensive shifts.

“That left fielder is getting pretty aggressive with where he plays me,” Mauer said. “That’s been tough.”

Following the Twins’ 6-2 loss to Felix Hernandez and the Mariners on Sunday, the Twins star is hitting .283 with a .373 on-base percentage and a .352 slugging percentage. His career numbers entering this season in those categories: .323, .405 and .468.

This would be a good time to question Mauer’s worth, if it weren’t for one recent development:

Mauer injured his back. Other than a concussion, there might be no more insidious injury for a professional athlete, especially one expected to play every day, than a bad back. Late Sunday afternoon, Mauer, in his usual understated manner, hinted that the back injury that cost him five games in early May was serious and lingering.

“It grabbed,” Mauer said. “Every sneeze, every movement, right away, it grabbed. I’d be trying to get ready for the game, and every time my heel hit the ground, it was shooting pain. I had to calm it down. I was hoping I could get back in the lineup a little sooner, but I was able to get back in there after a couple of days, and I haven’t had any problems since.”

When Mauer said, “It grabbed,” I winced. When my back has “grabbed,” I have found myself taking two hours to get out of bed, while screaming. I have been relegated to sleeping on the floor and gobbling painkillers. A severe back injury can prevent you from tying your shoes, not to mention hitting a big-league fastball.

“It’s funny,” Mauer said. “When it happens, there are so many things that are trying to protect that area. You’re working on your back but you’re also working on other things. Getting adjustments and treatments. I feel we have a good plan going forward.

“It’s baseball, too. You don’t have a lot of time to recover. You do a lot of maintenance stuff before and after games, not just the back but the whole package.”

Mauer might need a medical liaison.

His reputation among many Twin Cities sports fans was damaged when the phrase “bilateral leg weakness” was attached to his ailments in 2011. He never had anything like “bilateral leg weakness,” nor did he ever speak that phrase, but his unwillingness or inability to explain the injury that derailed that season left him looking reluctant.

His latest injury was described as “back spasms.” “Spasms” connotes a fluttering muscle. When Mauer said his back “grabbed,” he was describing sharp, searing, debilitating pain. Yes, that can be described as a muscle “spasm,” but that word does not communicate severity.

“I’m starting to feel better,” he said. “I was a little under the weather all week. I’m getting back in the weight room for the first time since it happened, so that felt good.”

The Twins hoped that Mauer’s transition to first base would make him more durable and productive. Neither has happened yet. He is such a gifted athlete that the Twins expected him to quickly become a Gold Glove-caliber fielder. Perhaps because of the back injury, Mauer doesn’t look as smooth as expected.

The Twins led 2-1 Sunday when starter Ricky Nolasco got Mariners speedster James Jones to hit a sharp grounder right at Mauer. Mauer bobbled it, barehanded it, then looked to flip to Nolasco. Nolasco didn’t cover the base.

That led to a two-run inning and to Nolasco’s early departure, and it might have cost the Twins the game. “Ricky said he was a little slow getting over,” Mauer said. “The guy ended up scoring, so that hurt us in the end. He said, ‘That was my bad, I should have been over there.’ We’ve got to make that play.”

Mauer has not looked, or swung the bat, like himself.

Sometimes the simplest explanation is the most accurate. An injured back is the simplest explanation.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Dallas 6:00 PM
Orlando
Sacramento 6:00 PM
Indiana
Toronto 6:00 PM
Washington
Houston 6:30 PM
Detroit
Philadelphia 6:30 PM
Atlanta
Cleveland 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Oklahoma City 7:00 PM
Memphis
Portland 7:30 PM
Milwaukee
LA Clippers 8:00 PM
San Antonio
Charlotte 8:00 PM
Denver
Phoenix 9:30 PM
Golden State
Washington 0 2nd Prd 4:56
Montreal 0
NY Islanders 0 1st Prd 7:24
Detroit 1
Arizona 2:00 PM
Ottawa
Los Angeles 6:00 PM
Boston
Florida 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Carolina 6:00 PM
NY Rangers
Toronto 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Dallas 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Columbus 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Edmonton 9:00 PM
Calgary
Chicago 9:30 PM
San Jose
Boston College 49 FINAL
Clemson 64
Western Mich 63 FINAL
Eastern Mich 69
NC State 81 FINAL
Georgia Tech 80
Wisconsin 74 FINAL
Iowa 63
Stony Brook 48 FINAL
New Hampshire 63
Notre Dame 72 FINAL
Pittsburgh 76
Providence 66 FINAL
St Johns 75
Davidson 70 FINAL
Saint Josephs 75
Xavier 82 FINAL
Seton Hall 90
Tulane 37 FINAL
Temple 55
Auburn 63 FINAL
Tennessee 71
Texas Tech 58 FINAL
West Virginia 77
Arkansas 37 2nd Half 12:07
Florida 43
Penn State 36 2nd Half 14:49
Illinois 37
Lipscomb 58 2nd Half 9:38
Stetson 47
South Florida 44 2nd Half 11:40
Tulsa 45
Bradley 40 2nd Half 11:14
Indiana State 45
UMass Lowell 12 1st Half 8:17
Binghamton 18
Green Bay 8 1st Half 10:58
Cleveland State 20
Georgetown 14 1st Half 9:05
Creighton 15
Coll of Charleston 18 1st Half 10:35
Delaware 10
Villanova 9 1st Half 14:07
DePaul 10
Vermont 15 1st Half 8:40
Hartford 13
TCU 22 1st Half 6:23
Iowa State 24
Kennesaw St 11 1st Half 8:07
Jacksonville 18
Kansas State 8 1st Half 9:42
Kansas 20
Boston Univ 13 1st Half 8:40
Lehigh 25
Illinois State 13 1st Half 11:31
Loyola-Chicago 11
Albany 20 1st Half 8:20
Maine 21
Butler 21 1st Half 7:20
Marquette 19
LSU 10 1st Half 8:52
Miss State 15
Mount St Marys 20 1st Half 7:50
Sacred Heart 19
Richmond 11 1st Half 8:01
VA Commonwealth 13
Virginia Tech 15 1st Half 8:40
Wake Forest 11
IUPU-Ft Wayne 18 1st Half 8:07
Nebraska Omaha 19
Arkansas State 0 1st Half 17:04
Georgia State 2
Loyola-Maryland 2:00 PM
Army
Tenn Tech 2:00 PM
Belmont
Bethune-Cookman 2:00 PM
Florida A&M
Valparaiso 2:00 PM
Ill-Chicago
UAB 2:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Idaho State 2:00 PM
North Dakota
Evansville 2:05 PM
Drake
Rutgers 2:15 PM
Indiana
Ball State 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Southern U 3:00 PM
Alcorn State
UNC-Wilmington 3:00 PM
Drexel
Coastal Carolina 3:00 PM
Gardner-Webb
Morgan State 3:00 PM
Howard
William & Mary 3:00 PM
James Madison
North Carolina 3:00 PM
Louisville
Coppin State 3:00 PM
MD-Eastern Shore
Ole Miss 3:00 PM
Missouri
Wichita State 3:00 PM
Northern Iowa
Loyola Marymount 3:00 PM
Pacific
Winthrop 3:00 PM
Radford
George Washington 3:00 PM
Rhode Island
Bryant 3:00 PM
Robert Morris
Long Island 3:00 PM
St Francis-NY
Fair-Dickinson 3:00 PM
St Francis-PA
Massachusetts 3:00 PM
Saint Louis
Georgia 3:00 PM
South Carolina
Central Conn St 3:00 PM
Wagner
SIU Edwardsville 3:15 PM
Eastern Ill
Ohio 3:30 PM
Central Mich
Eastern Ky 3:30 PM
Morehead State
Incarnate Word 3:30 PM
Nicholls
Campbell 3:30 PM
UNC-Asheville
Vanderbilt 3:30 PM
Texas A&M
South Alabama 4:00 PM
ULM
Western Carolina 4:00 PM
UNC Greensboro
Detroit 4:00 PM
Milwaukee
Idaho 4:05 PM
Eastern Wash
Marshall 4:30 PM
Louisiana Tech
Jackson State 4:30 PM
Miss Valley St
Houston Baptist 4:30 PM
Sam Houston St
Louisiana 4:30 PM
Texas State
Denver 4:30 PM
South Dakota St
Oral Roberts 4:30 PM
South Dakota
Texas 5:00 PM
Baylor
Citadel 5:00 PM
Chattanooga
Fresno State 5:00 PM
Colorado State
Yale 5:00 PM
Cornell
Ark-Pine Bluff 5:00 PM
Grambling St
Nebraska 5:00 PM
Minnesota
Hampton 5:00 PM
Norfolk State
Purdue 5:00 PM
Northwestern
Alabama A&M 5:00 PM
Prairie View
Dartmouth 5:00 PM
Princeton
Pepperdine 5:00 PM
St Marys-CA
NC A&T 5:00 PM
Savannah State
Delaware State 5:00 PM
SC State
Western Ky 5:00 PM
Southern Miss
Nevada 5:00 PM
Wyoming
Akron 6:00 PM
Bowling Green
Colgate 6:00 PM
Bucknell
FIU 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Brown 6:00 PM
Columbia
George Mason 6:00 PM
Duquesne
NC Central 6:00 PM
East Tenn St
Saint Peters 6:00 PM
Iona
Alabama 6:00 PM
Kentucky
Abilene Christian 6:00 PM
Lamar
Char Southern 6:00 PM
Liberty
Hawaii 6:00 PM
Long Beach State
New Orleans 6:00 PM
McNeese State
Lafayette 6:00 PM
Navy
Elon 6:00 PM
Northeastern
Fla Atlantic 6:00 PM
Old Dominion
Harvard 6:00 PM
Penn
La Salle 6:00 PM
St Bonaventure
Furman 6:00 PM
Samford
TX A&M-CC 6:00 PM
Stephen F Austin
Duke 6:00 PM
Virginia
Mercer 6:00 PM
Wofford
Northern Ky 6:00 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
USC Upstate 6:00 PM
North Florida
Longwood 6:00 PM
Presbyterian
Ark-Little Rock 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
SE Missouri St 7:00 PM
Austin Peay
CS-Northridge 7:00 PM
UC Riverside
Towson 7:00 PM
Hofstra
UT Martin 7:00 PM
Murray State
San Jose St 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Rice 7:00 PM
North Texas
Toledo 7:00 PM
Northern Ill
Oklahoma 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
San Francisco 7:00 PM
San Diego
Utah State 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Northwestern St 7:00 PM
SE Louisiana
UCF 7:00 PM
SMU
Southern Ill 7:05 PM
Missouri State
Troy 7:15 PM
Texas-Arlington
Jacksonville St 7:30 PM
Tennessee St
Alabama State 7:30 PM
Texas Southern
Stanford 7:30 PM
Washington St
Santa Clara 8:00 PM
BYU
TX-Pan American 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
Northern Ariz 8:00 PM
Southern Utah
Middle Tennessee 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Weber State 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
Chicago State 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
UC Santa Barbara 9:00 PM
UC Irvine
Memphis 9:00 PM
Gonzaga
Air Force 9:00 PM
UNLV
Cal Poly 9:00 PM
UC Davis
Seattle 9:00 PM
CS-Bakersfield
Montana State 9:05 PM
Portland State
Montana 9:05 PM
Sacramento St
Colorado 9:30 PM
UCLA
UMKC 9:30 PM
Utah Valley U
Mount St Marys 64 FINAL
Sacred Heart 71
Texas-El Paso 53 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 74
Arkansas State 61 FINAL
Georgia State 47
Bryant 47 2nd Half 10:41
Robert Morris 60
Central Conn St 69 2nd Half 6:10
Wagner 55
Fairleigh Dickinson 59 2nd Half 7:48
St Francis-PA 56
Long Island 33 2nd Half 10:12
St Francis-NY 42
Bethune-Cookman 50 2nd Half 10:00
Florida A&M 29
Longwood 36 2nd Half 11:54
Campbell 48
Charleston Southern 24 2nd Half 10:49
Winthrop 53
Louisiana Tech 51 2nd Half 8:56
Marshall 40
Ohio U 49 2nd Half 7:26
Central Michigan 45
Western Mich 48 2nd Half 4:48
Miami-Ohio 46
Coppin State 11 1st Half 8:20
MD-Eastern Shore 17
Incarnate Word 11 1st Half 6:49
Nicholls 28
Samford 12 1st Half 15:00
East Tenn St 6
Western Carolina 13 1st Half 11:00
Furman 24
Gardner-Webb 16 1st Half 8:06
Coastal Carolina 25
Liberty 15 1st Half 13:30
High Point 7
Presbyterian 10 1st Half 7:26
UNC-Asheville 14
Kent State 17 1st Half 6:09
Akron 18
Northern Ill 17 1st Half 10:53
Ball State 14
Houston 14 1st Half 8:01
Cincinnati 17
SIU-Edwardsville 7 1st Half 16:00
Eastern Illinois 8
Eastern Kentucky 23 1st Half 8:24
Morehead St 19
Holy Cross 17 1st Half 11:10
American Univ 10
Army 21 1st Half
Loyola-Maryland 19
Niagara 9 1st Half 13:00
Manhattan 5
Lehigh 21 1st Half 9:42
Boston U 19
Navy 17 1st Half 10:41
Lafayette 9
Saint Josephs 20 1st Half 6:26
Davidson 18
Duquesne 13 1st Half 9:44
Fordham 10
George Washington 22 1st Half 11:30
George Mason 11
St Bonaventure 5 1st Half 15:00
Massachusetts 8
Milwaukee 22 1st Half 9:34
Youngstown St 31
Jacksonville 12 1st Half 11:27
Kennesaw St 12
North Florida 8 1st Half 15:00
USC Upstate 9
Buffalo 1:30 PM
Eastern Michigan
St Marys-CA 2:00 PM
Pepperdine
Nebraska Omaha 2:00 PM
IUPUI
Houston Baptist 2:00 PM
Sam Houston St
Mercer 2:00 PM
(25) Chattanooga
No Dakota State 2:00 PM
South Dakota St
Oral Roberts 2:00 PM
South Dakota
Southern Miss 2:00 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 2:00 PM
UAB
East Carolina 2:00 PM
Tulane
South Florida 2:00 PM
Memphis
New Mexico St 2:00 PM
TX-Pan American
Utah Valley U 2:00 PM
UMKC
Jackson State 2:00 PM
Miss Valley St
Louisiana 2:00 PM
Texas State
South Alabama 2:00 PM
ULM
Saint Louis 2:00 PM
Dayton
Cleveland State 2:00 PM
Oakland
Grand Canyon 2:05 PM
Chicago State
UCLA 2:30 PM
Oregon
Washington St 2:30 PM
(12) Stanford
Kansas State 3:00 PM
Texas Tech
UNLV 3:00 PM
Air Force
UCF 3:00 PM
Tulsa
UNC Greensboro 3:00 PM
Wofford
Delaware State 3:00 PM
SC State
San Diego State 3:00 PM
Utah State
Sacramento St 3:00 PM
Montana
Portland State 3:00 PM
Montana State
Northern Colorado 3:00 PM
Weber State
Hampton 3:00 PM
Norfolk State
NC A&T 3:00 PM
Savannah State
Alabama A&M 3:00 PM
Prairie View
Toledo 3:00 PM
Bowling Green
Ark-Pine Bluff 3:00 PM
Grambling
Southern U 3:00 PM
Alcorn State
Marist 3:00 PM
Iona
Bucknell 3:00 PM
Colgate
North Dakota 3:00 PM
Idaho State
Ark-Little Rock 3:30 PM
Georgia Southern
BYU 4:00 PM
Santa Clara
Gonzaga 4:00 PM
Portland
Pacific 4:00 PM
Loyola Marymount
Abilene Christian 4:00 PM
Lamar
Colorado State 4:00 PM
Fresno State
New Mexico 4:00 PM
San Jose St
UC Davis 4:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
San Diego 4:00 PM
San Francisco
New Orleans 4:00 PM
McNeese State
TX A&M-CC 4:00 PM
Stephen F Austin
Old Dominion 4:00 PM
Florida Atlantic
Tenn Tech 4:00 PM
Belmont
Eastern Washington 4:00 PM
Idaho
Stetson 4:00 PM
Lipscomb
Washington 4:30 PM
California
USC 4:30 PM
(7) Oregon State
IUPU-Ft Wayne 4:30 PM
Western Ill
Northwestern St 4:30 PM
SE Louisiana
SE Missouri St 4:30 PM
Austin Peay
Columbia 5:00 PM
Brown
Charlotte 5:00 PM
FIU
Morgan State 5:00 PM
Howard
(19) Princeton 5:00 PM
Dartmouth
Penn 5:00 PM
Harvard
UT Martin 5:00 PM
Murray State
Troy 5:00 PM
TX-Arlington
Alabama State 5:30 PM
Texas Southern
Jacksonville St 5:30 PM
Tennessee St
Wyoming 6:00 PM
Nevada
Oklahoma St 6:00 PM
Iowa State
CS-Bakersfield 6:00 PM
Seattle
La Salle 6:00 PM
VA Commonwealth
Cal-Irvine 6:00 PM
Cal Poly
Fla Gulf Coast 6:00 PM
Northern Ky
Southern Utah 7:00 PM
Northern Ariz
Green Bay 7:00 PM
Illinois-Chicago
Cal State Fullerton 9:00 PM
Long Beach St
CS-Northridge 9:00 PM
Hawaii

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How should Timberwolves fans greet Kevin Love on Saturday?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close