Joe Mauer back to baseball activities, but still unsure of return date
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Sidelined since April 12 with a combination of bilateral leg weakness, general soreness and a viral infection, Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer is finally getting back to baseball activities.
The former MVP took light batting practice on Tuesday for the first time in weeks -- underhand flips from hitting coach Joe Vavra -- and he recently began playing catch as well.
Mauer hopes to join his teammates for a full batting practice session at some point this week, but the catcher has not yet begun catching or even crouching, and a timetable for his return to the lineup is still unknown.
"I've made a lot (of progress)," Mauer said. "(I) got on the field today, which was good, and I'm feeling a lot better."
"Today was kind of my first day getting on the field a little bit, moving around, and it was a good day."
Mauer, who was hitting just .235/.289/.265 with one extra-base hit in 38 plate appearances prior to landing on the disabled list, said he is still in the process of regaining strength and getting back into baseball shape -- due in large part to the viral infection that took him approximately two weeks to kick.
"That really did push me back quite a bit," Mauer said. "When it was all said and done, I lost around 15 pounds. I lost a lot of strength, so that probably pushed me back a week or a couple weeks. I'm feeling a lot better now. I'm getting my strength back and my weight back, so hopefully I can get back on the field."
He added, "You've got to get back into baseball shape. But yeah, I still got some work to do, and I wish I knew when I would be back, and I know everybody else wishes too, but you just go to keep going in the right direction."
With the Twins owning the worst record in baseball and the most futile offense through six weeks, Mauer's presence is desperately needed. When asked about the possibility of returning at less than 100%, Mauer said, "I think I was trying to play through it the first part of the year and look where it got me.
"You know, it's May so I'm going to try to do everything I can to get back on the field and catch every day and not just one or two."
It is May, yes, however the Twins currently sit 10 games behind the Indians in the American League Central standings.
"It's just frustrating not being able to get out there and perform," Mauer said. "When I was playing I felt like it was a struggle every day to get back out on the field. So yeah I was frustrated."
The notion of moving Mauer to positions other than catcher has been brought up internally as well, but the current consensus is to get him to the point where he can catch every day.
"I'm not thinking about long-term right now," Mauer said. "I'm trying to get back on the field right now. But I signed here to catch here for eight years and that's what I plan on doing. So I'm just trying to get back on the field right now."