Joe Mauer's 8-year, $184 million contract ($23 million per year on average) started this season and runs all the way through 2018.

The Twins made it through 12 games this season -- nine of which Mauer played in -- before having to place him on the disabled list. Assuming the baseball schedule remains 162 games for the next eight seasons, there are still 1,284 regular-season games left on Mauer's contract.

And this is where bilateral leg weakness -- described here as something that "may be caused by a malfunction of the brain, the spinal cord, or nerves" -- becomes a bilateral splitting headache.

It's not just the short-term context of the thing, what with the Twins already struggling and the announcement coming after a gut-punch of a game in which two All-Star closers blew leads (we watched the whole thing unfold on the treadmill, and the only positive side effect is that it fueled our rage and allowed us to crank the speed for the final half-mile, garnering us the coveted crazy stares from nearby runners).

This isn't just more kindling for the "will Mauer earn his contract" fire; rather, this could be the mother log that keeps everyone warm for hours. What could possibly cause more wear and tear, injuries and, yes, BLW as we're going to call it from now on, than a rangy 6-6 man squatting for nine innings and shifting weight on those legs to block pitches, move from side to side and make 47 trips to the mound?

To be fair, Mauer has come back from injuries before and has brushed off the "can he remain a catcher?" question to the tune of three batting titles and an MVP award. But this truth lingers: The minute he becomes anything other than a full-time catcher in that spacious new ballpark is the minute he becomes a glorified No. 2 hitter who is still very much "one of us" but won't come close to matching his production to his contract.

Once you get past the St. Paul angle, his massive salary was earned because of the power he showed during that huge 2009 season and his ability to play baseball's most demanding position. One disappeared last year; let's hope the other isn't fading already, too.