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Updated: April 15th, 2011 10:56am
Flu hospitalizes Joe Mauer, who could be headed for longer stint on DL

Flu hospitalizes Joe Mauer, who could be headed for longer stint on DL

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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Joe Mauer's bad day got worse late Thursday night, when the Minnesota Twins' All-Star catcher was hospitalized with flu-like symptoms.

Placed on the 15-day disabled list on Thursday with "bilateral leg weakness," Mauer also was checked for appendicitis after complaining of stomach pains. His scheduled visit to a specialist in Baltimore on Friday will be pushed back, according to manager Ron Gardenhire, who strongly indicated Mauer could miss more than 15 days before returning to action.

"Everything checked out really good," Gardenhire said in an interview with 1500 ESPN Twin Cities on Friday morning. "But he was at the hospital last night until 3:30 or 4 in the morning with the flu. (They) got him all checked out, and I would doubt if he's going to Baltimore. I would imagine he's going to hang out here another day. He wasn't feeling too awful good (Thursday), and eventually, we'll get him back to Minnesota."

Gardenhire said he first knew something was amiss on Tuesday, when Mauer came in sore after the off-day. Mauer played that night against Kansas City but didn't feel well the next morning and was scratched from his scheduled start, then sat out again on Thursday night in Tampa Bay.

Mauer missed a large chunk of spring training while recovering from offseason knee surgery, but Gardenhire said that isn't the issue. If anything, overcompensating for the knee might have contributed to soreness in Mauer's hips, shoulder and elbow.

Asked for his initial thoughts when putting Mauer on the disabled list, Gardenhire said, "Honestly, I don't know how long it's going to be. We've got the DL time, the two weeks, 15-dayer, but I don't know how long it's going to be, because this is something we haven't had to deal with.

"Actually, his knee is feeling great. It's the rest of the body that's kind of taken a hit, and we've just got to try to get that all straightened out and whether he's compensating for one thing, the weakness in the leg that he had surgery on or whatever, we've just got to figure it out and back off a little bit here.

"You know what? It happens. It happens in this game. This is a tough game, and he's in a tough spot catching. You just have to deal with it and you have to move forward."

Later, Gardenhire told reporters in Tampa Bay the team believes Mauer's viral infection contributed heavily to his soreness and weakness, leaving him more optimistic the catcher's DL stint won't be prolonged.

In the meantime, Drew Butera and Steve Holm, who was recalled from Class-AAA Rochester on Thursday, both will catch plenty in Mauer's absence, Gardenhire said.

Mauer had been batting in the No. 2 spot since Tsuyoshi Nishioka's injury last week. Michael Cuddyer batted there in Thursday's 4-3 loss at Tampa Bay, but Gardenhire said matchups will determine that on a day-to-day basis.

Gardenhire defended the Twins' approach to Mauer's return to action, saying that "in hindsight, everybody says do this do that, but we did the right thing with him. As soon as we were able to get him on the field, and his body was ready for it, we did it. And you know what? He just had a setback, and you just got to take a step back."

He also dismissed the notion the Twins could move Mauer to another position upon his return to preserve his body -- something that had been a topic among fans even before Mauer signed an eight-year, $184 million contract last March.

"Well, where else you want to put him?" Gardenhire said. "We've got players everywhere, and you can try to stick him somewhere, but you're not going to be able to make him into another position during the middle of the season right away. It takes a little bit more work that that."

The complete Gardenhire interview was scheduled to air at 12:35 p.m. on 1500 ESPN.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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