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Updated: February 17th, 2011 10:18am
Joe Mauer still strengthening knee: 'I'm just trying to take it easy'

Joe Mauer still strengthening knee: 'I'm just trying to take it easy'

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Joe Mauer isn't ready to declare himself 100% healthy, but the Minnesota Twins' All-Star catcher continued to express optimism on Thursday his surgically repaired left knee will be ready when it matters.

"One thing is you've got to realize it's spring training," Mauer said while unpacking at his locker in the Twins' clubhouse at Hammond Stadium.

"Your ultimate goal is to get ready for April 1st, not February 20th, and we're going to take it easy and make sure I'm healthy for the year."

Mauer's numbers dipped last season from his 2009 MVP campaign as he battled a variety of injuries, including inflammation in the knee that cost him nine games in September. The 27-year-old underwent a minor procedure in early December to relieve irritation around the joint and spent several weeks on crutches.

He acknowledged on Thursday he's still receiving regular treatment -- "just strengthening, things like that, doing things specific to get me back to normal" -- and, in typical Mauer fashion, danced around a follow-up question about how close he is to normal.

"I knew you were going to ask me that," Mauer said. "Well, you'll see me. I'll be around there, running around, doing everything I need to do (Friday). So, I'm just trying to take it easy."

Pitchers and catchers had to report to Fort Myers by Thursday, with the first formal workout scheduled for Friday and the full squad due to report next Wednesday.

Given the condition of Mauer's knee and the beating he took last season, the Twins are expected to limit their star's workload in spring training. Mauer said he's yet to discuss those plans with manager Ron Gardenhire but expects to have that conversation soon.

"I'm just here trying to get ready for the season," Mauer said. "I'll talk with Gardy and see what they really want me to do, but the main goal is to be ready for the season, the start of the season, and the whole year."

One thing Mauer won't have to deal with this spring is his contract. Last year, he endured a month's worth of questions and speculation about his future before agreeing to an eight-year, $184 million deal on March 21.

"A little less hectic offseason, which is good. It was kind of a circus a little bit last year, but it's a different feel this year."

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
In this story: Ron Gardenhire, Joe Mauer
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