Joe Mauer on Saturday went 3-for-4 with a double, scored twice, drove in a run, and caught a four-hit shutout. Since his last day off (July 25), he's a mere 12-for-19 with five doubles and a homer.
Then he had a cortisone injection in his ailing right shoulder. Imagine if he felt good.
This will sideline Mauer for a couple of days, but that's OK. Mauer wasn't going to catch today (day game after night game) and Monday (because Drew Butera is now Carl Pavano's personal catcher) anyway, so it was as good an opportunity to take the shot as was likely to arise.
Mauer has resisted talking about his injuries and is said to be unhappy that anything has been made public, but it's no secret that he's been playing hurt much of this season. I was, however, a bit surprised when manager Ron Gardenhire said Saturday that Mauer was having the injection in his throwing shoulder.
Attention, American League: Our catcher's shoulder is bothering him. Rev up your basestealers!
On the other hand:
If the tendinitis (that's the diagnosis) is hampering his throwing, it's not likely a secret in opposing dugouts. Managers and coaches carry stopwatches to monitor such things as "pop times" — the time between when the pitch "pops" the catcher's glove and the catcher's throw hits the infielder's glove. If Mauer's lost (let us say) .2 seconds of pop time, it's known.
But this raises yet another sidelight on the Matt Capps-Wilson Ramos trade. When Mauer misses a chuck of time earlier this season to his heel injury, Ramos was called up and stuffed into the lineup. That's not an option anymore. If Mauer goes down, it's Butera's defense and Jose Morales's bat.
Forecasting injuries is impossible, but one can infer from the trade that the Twins aren't particularly fearful that Mauer's season is at risk from the problems he's playing through.
Poll stuff: Last week's poll got a bit outdated by the end. Still, let's recap:
The question was who should close for the Twins; 49 votes were cast. (Matt Capps was not a listed option.)
Jon Rauch, the incumbent when the poll was posted, got 19 votes (38 percent); Jesse Crain got 18 votes (37 percent); none of the above, five (10 percent); Anthony Slama, four; (8 percent) and Matt Guerrier three (6 percent).
New poll up.