There's more pain in Mauer's game

The offseason can't come soon enough for the Twins catcher, who said that on top of everything else he has gone through this year, he might need hernia surgery.

Twins catcher Joe Mauer revealed Saturday that he might need offseason surgery to repair a hernia.

Mauer said he's been playing with the condition since the middle of the season but that it was not serious enough for him to be shut down. He underwent a physical Saturday and said he had hoped to get official word that surgery was needed. Instead, more tests will be required.

"I don't know if it is a hernia or what, but, yeah, I need to get some stuff done," Mauer said.

Despite the problem, Mauer is expected to be in the starting lineup today against the White Sox for the Twins' final home game of the season.

"We still have to make sure what it is," Mauer said.

It has been a tough year for Mauer. He is batting .287 with six homers and 57 RBI after becoming the first catcher to lead the AL in batting in 2006. Mauer said he hasn't consistently felt good at the plate, perhaps because of the time he has missed because of injuries.

His problems began in spring training, when Mauer was shut down for nearly a week because of a stress reaction in his left leg. Mauer and the Twins said he could have played if he had needed to.

In May he missed a month because of a strained left quadriceps , and the Twins went 15-18 in his absence.

Then Mauer injured his left hamstring on Aug. 25 while running the bases in Baltimore. The club thought he could be ready in about a week, so he stayed off the disabled list, but he wound up missing 13 games, the Twins going 3-10. The Twins needed him badly then, as they were swept in a three-game series against Cleveland, ending any realistic playoff hopes.

Since the hamstring injury, Mauer has been asked to take it slow on the bases. He jogs to first regardless whether it's a slow roller or a blast over the fence.

"It started the first month, really," he said. "I had leg problems pretty much the whole year and just never really felt my best. It was one thing after another."

Mauer took criticism, including a suggestion from teammate Torii Hunter that he must feel 100 percent to play. He also had to deal with suggestions that he should move to a physically less demanding position.

Mauer sounded like someone who was worn down by controversies and ready to get away from it all during the offseason.

"There were a lot of people frustrated," he said, "but for the person who goes through it, it's frustrating, too. If I'm able to go, I'll be out there."

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