Mauer not buying connection between illness, soreness

The still-ill Twins catcher said he doesn't believe the viral infection he is battling is related to his weak legs.

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Joe Mauer

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

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ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. — The Twins have drawn a connection between the viral infection Joe Mauer is battling and the weakness in his legs and other areas of his body.

Dr. Mauer refuses to do so.

"I'm not a doctor," the All-Star catcher said Sunday, "but I don't feel like they are related. Before I started feeling sick, it was going to be done. I couldn't go out there and play. I needed to take a step back and not play; it is just making things worse."

Mauer made his first appearance in the visitors clubhouse of Tropicana Field since Thursday, when the infection was at its worst. He ended up at a local hospital where tests were run, and the infection was diagnosed.

He spent the next two days in his hotel room, struggling to keep food down. He said Sunday that he can eat only bland food now and that he lost 12 pounds over Friday and Saturday.

Mauer looked thinner -- and pale -- as he spoke with reporters about his condition.

"I'm still not feeling very good," he said. "Definitely better than the last couple of days, though."

The Twins placed Mauer on the 15-day disabled list Thursday night, replacing him on the active roster with veteran catcher Steve Holm. As Mauer recovers, he will begin rehabilitating his legs, and the club hopes he can return to the lineup when he is eligible to come off the DL April 28.

If the viral infection can't be connected to his leg weakness, why are they weak? The Twins first announced that he had bilateral leg weakness, which is a symptom of several serious conditions.

Mauer believes he failed to leave spring training with his legs as strong as they needed to be and that the regular-season schedule exposed that.

He had left knee surgery in December -- after rehabilitation didn't work -- and he didn't appear in a spring training game until March 16 while he tried to get his legs in condition for the regular season.

"I think it goes back to spring training," Mauer said. "I thought I built up enough strength in my legs to get through the season, and once the games started my hope was that I was going to get stronger, and it just went the other way -- something I needed to take time off [to] get healthy and get back on the field."

He believes the shoulder and elbow soreness that also flared up is related to his legs.

"Obviously with one leg not strong, it affects other things," he said. "I thought we were at a certain point and, obviously, when you go back out there, I was hoping things would go in the [right] direction, and they went the other way."

Monday in Baltimore, Mauer is expected to be examined at Johns Hopkins Hospital by the specialist who treated his inflamed sacroiliac joint in 2009, as part of an annual follow-up exam whenever the Twins are in town to play the Orioles. He could return to the Twin Cities as soon as Monday night to begin his rehab work.

It's the latest chapter in Mauer's injury history, one that includes a stress reaction in his left fibula in 2007 in addition to the sacroiliac joint two years later.

He was asked if he thinks there's a common thread that links some of the somewhat unusual injuries he's had.

"I guess you wonder about it," Mauer said. "Going on the DL every time you get hurt, everybody brings up everything. This is my eighth season. I've had some injuries, yes, but when you look at everything, I have played a lot, too. So it is what it is.

"Nobody wants to be out there more than me, and I understand people are frustrated. I'm probably the most frustrated out of everyone."

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