Notes: Mauer muddling through
Catcher hopes injury bug is behind him after 2007 season
MINNEAPOLIS -- Joe Mauer's 2007 campaign has been marred by leg injuries, but he has been dealing with another injury for much of the season as well.
Mauer said he's been playing with a hernia since midseason, and there is the possibility that he will undergo surgery to repair it once the season is over. He will undergo some tests in the coming weeks to determine whether that is necessary.
"It hasn't really gotten any worse, so we're going to wait until the end of the season," Mauer said. "I'm not a doctor or anything, but I've had a hernia before and it feels similar."
The hernia is just the latest in what has been a season marked by injury for the starting catcher. It began in Spring Training when Mauer was diagnosed with a stress reaction in his left leg. The club rested him for a few days as a precautionary measure.
Then Mauer suffered a strained left quadriceps in early May that put him on the disabled list for almost five weeks.
Mauer's absence was clearly felt during that span, as the Twins endured their share of offensive woes. The hope was that his injury concerns would soon be behind him.
But Mauer's leg problems continued. In late August, he suffered a left hamstring injury while running the bases in Baltimore. That injury did not require a stint on the DL, but he missed 13 games at a time when the Twins were still clinging to hopes of a postseason berth.
The injuries have been frustrating for Mauer. Coming off a year in which he became the first catcher ever to win an American League batting title, Mauer's 2007 performance -- a .287 average with six homers and 57 RBIs -- has been what he terms "disappointing."
"It's been a long year," Mauer said. "It seems like one thing after another since the beginning. I'm just trying to finish the year on a positive note and get healthy for next year."
Start unknown: Scott Baker's unexpected absence due to a family illness has left the team with a question mark as to who will start for the Twins in Boston on Thursday night.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said it's uncertain exactly when Baker will be able to rejoin the team. The pitcher flew home to Shreveport, La., on Saturday night to be with a sick child. If he doesn't make it to Detroit on Monday, Gardenhire said he likely will have Boof Bonser throw on the side and be prepared to take Baker's start.
"As [pitching coach Rick Anderson] said before, missing that in-between session is important, and we need to see where he's at with his hand," Gardenhire said.
The back of Baker's hand was bruised after he was struck by a Danny Richar line drive with one out in the second inning of Saturday's game. Baker was removed after the inning as a precautionary measure. No X-rays were taken of the hand, but Gardenhire said that they will check on it before Baker throws again.
Missing in action: Pat Neshek will not be traveling with the Twins on their final road trip.
After being shut down for the season due to inflammation in his right throwing elbow, Neshek will remain in the Twin Cities to complete his rehab work.
"He kind of got shut down before we shut him down, but we don't plan on him throwing, anyway," Gardenhire said.
Twins tidbits: Double-A New Britain third baseman David Winfree will not play in the Arizona Fall League due to a strained left shoulder. Winfree injured the shoulder toward the end of the season, and it has not improved. He is expected to arrive in the Twin Cities on Monday to have the shoulder examined. ... The Twins' 2008 schedule is expected to be released in the coming days. It's normally released during the club's Fan Appreciation Weekend, but Major League Baseball delayed the announcement due to a few remaining schedule conflicts. One sure thing is that the Twins will face the National League West in Interleague Play next season. ... Four giant, autographed Johan Santana bobblehead dolls were given away to fans on Sunday. The pitcher purchased the three-foot bobbleheads and gave them to teammates and coaches as well as members of the front-office staff.
Coming up: The Twins begin their final road trip of the season with three contests at Detroit. Right-hander Carlos Silva (12-14, 4.40) will get the start for the Twins as he faces off against left-hander Nate Robertson (8-12, 4.94) in the 6:05 p.m. CT contest.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.