|When and if Joe Mauer moves to another position,|
the odds are back problems will be a catalyst in the shift.
Last week it was Tsuyoshi Nishioka's broken fibula; yesterday it was Joe Mauer's "bilateral leg weakness." He was put on the disabled list and is to see the specialist who treated his sacroiliac joint in 2009.
This diagnosis was a new one to me, but the more I learn of it the more concerned I become. Presumably this is rooted in his back, and it is back issues that generally sabotage the careers of tall catchers. Mauer is listed at 6-foot-5 and may be taller than that; he is definitely a tall catcher.
I've been dismissive of the chronic talk of moving Mauer to another position, and I would like to continue to be dismissive of that notion. Two disabling back injuries in a little more than two years (if that's the cause) makes that a difficult position to maintain.
There is much unknown about the outlook, including the exact cause and even when Mauer will see the specialist. so it's premature to declare that his catching days are numbered. What we do know for a fact is that he won't be catching for at least two weeks, and we also know that the Twins, having traded both Wilson Ramos and Jose Morales in the past year, are not particularly deep in catchers now.
Presumably Drew Butera will be the primary catcher while Mauer is sidelined. Steve Holm, a 31-year-old minor league veteran who hit .400 (in 15 at-bats) in spring training, has been called up to serve as the backup. Holm has all of 53 major league games on his resume -- which is what Butera has after Thursday's game.
There is, obviously, a big drop off from Joe Mauer to Butera and Holm. If Mauer's going to be out for a prolonged period, the Twins may have to shop for outside help.