Injury comes at worst time for Mauer

Joe Mauer was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday because of a right oblique strain, another setback for the three-time batting champion who was just finding his old swing.

The Twins made the move soon after Mauer arrived at Target Field before Wednesday’s game against Kansas City and reported discomfort.

Mauer admitted his right side has been bothering him in recent days, and that he was trying nurse his way through it while remaining in the lineup. But he felt it worsen as he stroked a two-run double during a 10-2 victory over the Royals on Tuesday.

It’s even more troubling to them because, after underperforming for most of the season, Mauer had started to come alive at the plate.

The double gave Mauer a 13-game hitting streak, during which he is batting .362 with six doubles and 12 RBI.

“It’s been a trying year,” said Mauer, who is batting .271 with two homers and 28 RBI. “Even more frustrating when you feel you are playing pretty well lately and things were going my way, turning in my direction.

“It’s baseball, that’s what happens. You gotta try to stay positive and when I get back out there do the same thing I was doing.”

In addition to searching for his swing, Mauer missed five games in May because of a back injury and was bothered for a few more weeks by lingering soreness. He expressed his frustration over his lack of production in June. Soon after that, he began making more solid contact and added 16 points to his batting average during his hitting streak.

Given the nature of oblique strains, there’s a good chance Mauer will need more than 15 days to recover.

The DL move ends any chances Mauer had of being named to the All-Star Game, which will be played July 15 at Target Field. American League manager John Farrell can consult with the league office to help fill the roster for the game.

If Mauer had finished the week strong, there could have been a case made for him to be added. Not now. While Mauer will be busy attending functions as the official All-Star Game ambassador, he won’t play in the game itself.

“It’s disappointing. Any time you have a chance to go to the an All-Star Game, it is an exciting time, especially in your hometown,” he said. “It’s tough to describe. I definitely wanted to be a part of this as a player. I guess that’s out of the question now.”

Chance for Colabello

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire walked into Target Field with Chris Colabello on Wednesday.

“I said, ‘It looks like you have been swinging pretty good lately,’ ” Gardenhire said.

“He said, ‘Yeah, I’ve been finding the barrel of the bat and it’s been finding the outside of the fence.’ I think he’s confident.”

Colabello, called up to replace Mauer, gets another chance after a strong start to the season followed by a rapid descent that landed him in Class AAA Rochester by late May. He hit .346 with three homers and 26 RBI in his first 20 games with the Twins, then .110 with one homer and four RBI in his next 20.

“I’m going to try to be myself and not let all the bells and whistles get in the way,” he said. “It’s just a matter of going up and trying to have a good at-bat.”

After a slow start following his demotion, Colabello is batting .275 with six homers and 27 RBI for the Red Wings.

International signings

The Twins signed their top two targets on Wednesday, the first day of the international signing period.

They signed righthander Huascar Ynoa for $900,000 and outfielder Jean Carlos Arias for $450,000. Both players are from the Dominican Republic. The Twins hope to sign a few more prospects during the period.

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