Contract year ahead, Mauer eyes offseason
Twins catcher set for hip exam, hopes rest will be enough
MINNEAPOLIS -- Joe Mauer stood beside his locker inside the Twins' clubhouse at the Metrodome on Monday morning, packing up his equipment into boxes the day after his club's postseason run ended in a 4-1 loss to the Yankees in Game 3 of the American League Division Series.While the offseason came earlier than the catcher had hoped, the time off will provide Mauer an opportunity to rest up and heal some of the bumps and bruises he acquired over his MVP-caliber 2009 season. Mauer batted .365 -- winning his third AL batting title in four years -- with 28 homers and 96 RBIs this season, but he has been battling a sore right hip flexor muscle since Tuesday night's Game 163 against the Tigers after he injured the muscle when he fell while rounding first base. Yet Mauer was determined not to let the injury keep him off the field while his team was still playing in the postseason. "I was beat up," Mauer admitted Monday. "Now I get to rest up for next year, but I wasn't going to come off that field. It was that time of year." The hip flexor never really got better as he continued to play, Mauer said, but the hope is that the injury will heal with rest. He'll get a full checkout by doctors this week to make sure the strained hip flexor is nothing more serious and just to make sure that everything else checks out OK as well. "I just want to try not to have an offseason like last year, where something might sneak up and set me back," Mauer said. Last offseason, Mauer battled back problems that had actually started in the final weeks of the 2008 season. He had offseason surgery to repair a kidney obstruction, but it didn't solve the back pain, and Mauer was forced to miss the first month of the regular season once his problem was finally diagnosed as an inflamed sacroiliac joint. Mauer had no recurrences of back problems this season, saying that he was "very pleased with my back this year." Besides the hip flexor at the end of the season, Mauer said that he was only bothered by the usual soreness that comes from catching nearly every day and the wear it takes on his entire body from his thumbs, to his arms and legs. Although it's nothing, he said, that the rest of the offseason can't fix.
|"We can win here."|
|-- Joe Mauer|
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.