Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fretting about Mauer's back

Joe Mauer has started 66 games at catcher this season,
35 at designated hitter and 27 at first base.
Joe Mauer was to have caught Tuesday night, but he started having back spasms during batting practice and was pulled from the lineup.

The word after the game was that Mauer hoped to be able to play Wednesday, but that wasn't certain. Mauer said he's not encountered this before.

It is to be hoped that this is just a minor glitch. But I wonder, because he is a tall catcher, and that means his back is vulnerable. I have always believed that, for all the issues Mauer has had with his left knee, that if and when he moves out from behind the plate it will be because of his back.

I've dealt with back problems for much of my adult life, and there are certain things I've learned in the process. One is that back problems are connected to muscle issues in the thighs. Quads, hamstrings, back muscles — if one weakens, the others get strained trying to compensate. To fix my back problems, I had to fix the leg issues first.

What does a catcher do? He squats. Repeatedly. If Sam Deduno throws 100 pitches in five innings, whoever's behind the plate is squatting on each pitch.

Mauer and the Twins certainly know the stress this puts on his hamstrings and quads. I've studied his pregame stretching routine over the years from the seats; it's much like the exercises I've used to stave off back surgery since I suffered a herniated disk in the late 1990s, but ramped up. The milder forms I do are rehab; Mauer's been doing "prehab" for years.

Maybe Tuesday's spasms were nothing to be concerned about. Maybe they represent something more ominous.

1 comment:

  1. If it is indeed time I certainly hope the Twins don't waste time making the switch!