Joe Mauer says 'some things aren't true ... I have pneumonia'
Get the 1500 ESPN SportsWire delivered to your inbox daily, and keep up with all the news in Twin Cities Sports
MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer returned to Target Field on Monday for the first time since being diagnosed with pnuemonia on Sept. 16.
Mauer remains sidelined for the final three games, and he'll finish the season having played in only 82 games (52 behind the plate).He missed 57 games due to bilateral leg weakness, six games with neck stiffness and two games in early September with an upper respiratory infection that later turned into pneumonia.
Mauer also spent time in the hospital in early April with a viral infection while also being sidelined with the leg weakness. All of this, of course, following offseason knee surgery which caused Mauer's spring training schedule to be pushed back by nearly a month.
Mauer's .287 batting average, .360 on-base percentage, .368 slugging percentage and three home runs all set new career lows.
Prior to team batting practice -- which Mauer did not participate in -- the 2009 MVP spoke with reporters at his locker.
Do you have a strong urge to have a monster season next year to redeem yourself?
"You always want to do well when you put the uniform on. For me, my biggest goal is just to come back and be healthy. It's been a frustrating year. I haven't been healthy. Hopefully, we can do that as a whole. I'm talking about myself, but this whole room, we've kind of got the same thing going on (injury-wise). My No. 1 goal is to just get healthy and just get ready for next year."
How much were your knees/legs bothering you in the second half of the season?
"I'm not here to get into all that. You deal with things and you try to grind through it. Like I said, this was a frustrating year for me this year. I was dealing with a lot of things. I'm here to support my teammates. I think a lot of it has been well-documented. There are some things aren't true and some things that are, but I'm just here to show my support."
You've talked about changing your offseason plan. Are you confident in that plan heading into offseason?
"Uh, yeah. We've talked about a lot of things. But like I said, No. 1 is to get over this. Pneumonia's something you don't want to mess around with. I want to make sure I get over this and go from there."
You're 28 years old, in good shape, etc. But this doesn't seem like it's been a regular year, probably for anybody. Would you say it's more of a fluke?
"Well, yeah, that whole infection (in Anaheim), that's how the pneumonia started, and it came to that. That wasn't related to anything else. I tried playing through it and it turned into this, and was just advised by everybody that this isn't the right direction that we're supposed to go. ...
"Obviously I was frustrated with it, and obviously I wanted to finish this season playing, but I just wasn't able to."
When we hear Mayo Clinic we think serious stuff. Were you or the doctors worried it was more than pneumonia?
"That's what Mayo does; they check everything, and that's what they came up with. I trust the doctors and am doing everything they told me to do."
So do you sit there and wonder if it was something more serious?
"You think about a lot of things, but you go down to Mayo and they rule a lot of things out. The thing is, right now I've got to get over this pneumonia, and hopefully I can get over it sooner than later and have a productive offseason."
What's the biggest misconception?
"Everybody throws their two cents on it. Even like just now, you know, I've never heard walking pneumonia (reponding to a reporter's use of the term 'walking pneumonia'). Guys throw their own two cents on it, but like I said, this is what I have, I have pneumonia. I have to deal to with it and take care of it. ...
"Look, I'm not trying to get into all that. The thing is that whatever happened, happened. I have pneumonia now and I'm trying to deal with that and once I can deal with it, I think I can get ready for next year."