Mauer improving but not ready

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 29, 2011 - 1:35 AM
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Twins catcher Joe Mauer

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Twins catcher Joe Mauer said Thursday that he lost 15 pounds and couldn't do much for about a week because of his viral infection. "It feels like I'm finally turning a corner," he said.

Still, Mauer has a ways to go before he'll be ready to come off the disabled list. On the DL since April 12 because of bilateral leg weakness, he was eligible to return Thursday but said he wasn't ready to resume catching, throwing or batting.

The Twins have no timetable for his return.

"He's still in the strength phase of his program," head trainer Rick McWane said. "He's getting stronger, he's feeling a lot better, he's improved his flexibility, improved his strength in his legs, his upper body, his shoulder, his elbow -- everything's getting stronger."

Mauer will need to go on a minor league rehab assignment, McWane said.

Mauer had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in mid-December and played in just eight spring training games.

"He wasn't strong enough to handle everyday catching," McWane said. "At the end of spring training, he said that's the best he had felt and he's doing fine. He didn't have any issues with his knee at end of spring training. And still his knee feels good.

"It wasn't a matter of his knee not being ready, he just didn't -- I don't think -- have the repetitions, catching or in anything else. Once the season started, he started to wear down.

"Then he got sick on top of that. ... So it was just a perfect storm of several things that happened at same time."

Mauer agreed he had a "pretty accelerated spring training."

"I thought I got myself to a point where once we got to the season, my legs would continue to get stronger and get to where I needed to get to," he said. "And it just kind of went the other way."

Mauer has been through extensive tests, and the team has ruled out several potential causes of his leg weakness. "There's no connection between his virus and orthopedic injuries," McWane said.

Asked whether he's thought about a position change, Mauer said, "No, I don't think so. ... I just think I can help the team a lot more behind the plate. That's what I signed here to do is catch. I think we're a better ballclub when I'm behind the plate.

"I just kind of had a bad storm the last couple weeks," he said. "I feel confident once I get healthy, and get where I need to be, that it won't be a problem."

Etc.

• Jim Thome missed the Rays series because of a slight oblique pull. Gardenhire said Thome hopes to be ready to play in the next couple days, but if not, the Twins might have to place him on the DL and promote a 13th pitcher to the roster.

 Jason Repko also missed the series (sore quadriceps muscle), and if he can't play soon, he's another DL candidate.

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