Yesterday manager Ron Gardenhire revealed to reporters that Joe Mauer might be held out from catching early in Twins camp after receiving a lubricant injection in his surgically repaired left knee, saying he wanted to “make sure those things take effect” before upping Mauer’s workload.
Apparently that wasn’t supposed to be public information, because this morning Mauer spoke to those same reporters about the situation and they all came away thinking he was upset at Gardenhire for spilling the beans.
Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com wrote that Mauer “wasn’t thrilled about his lubricant knee shot going public.” Kelsie Smith of the St. Paul Pioneer Press wrote that Mauer is “miffed the shots are public.” LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote that Mauer was “not pleased Gardenhire outed him about the injection.”
During a typical interview Mauer says absolutely nothing of interest, let alone anything even close to controversial, so for three reporters to come away from a meeting with him thinking he was upset about the manager’s loose lips is noteworthy. Mauer also stressed that the injection is simply part of his planned recovery from surgery, saying that the shot he received this week is the first in a series of three scheduled to get him ready for the season:
It’s not that I need it. It’s more of a preventative thing just to make sure I’m good to go for the season. It’s really not that big of a deal and I kind of wish it wasn’t out there, but here we are. I was surprised that it was out there. Usually a lot of these things happen and you never know about it. I guess being a catcher and all that stuff, it might sound a lot worse than what it is. I don’t think it’s really that big of a deal.
Mauer has had more than his fair share of injuries over the years, including a knee injury that required surgery and cut short his rookie season after just 35 games in 2004, but since then he’s been among the most durable catchers in baseball while averaging 134 games and 576 plate appearances per season.
The Blue Jays have shut down left fielder Steve Pearce for the remainder of the season following a lingering case of lower back stiffness. Pearce has not appeared in a game since September 8, when he was forced to exit in the first inning after experiencing back pain during his at-bat. Per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, he’s scheduled to return to Florida next week, where he’ll receive epidural injections to address the pain.
Pearce, 34, impressed in his first season with Toronto. He battled through a calf injury during the first half of the season and finished the year with a modest .252/.319/.438 batting line, 13 home runs and a .757 OPS through 348 PA. By September, the Blue Jays started testing the waters with outfield prospect Teoscar Hernandez, who shouldered the bulk of the starts in left field after Pearce was sidelined with back issues.
With the Blue Jays all but eliminated from playoff contention, however, there’s no rush to get Pearce back to the outfield. He should be in fine shape to compete for another starting role in spring, and could face stiff competition from Hernandez if the rookie continues building on his .278 average and three home runs this month. The veteran outfielder is slated to receive the remaining $6.25 million on his contract in 2018 and will be eligible for free agency in 2019.
Brewers’ minor league infielder Julio Mendez remains in “critical but stable condition,” club GM David Stearns announced Friday. Back in August, Mendez suffered a cardiac event after he was inadvertently struck by a ball from the Angels’ Austin Krzeminksi during a game between the rookie-level affiliates. The 20-year-old was removed to a Phoenix-area hospital for treatment following the incident and has recently been transferred to a hospital in his native Venezuela.
Mendez was in his fourth season with the Brewers’ organization. He spent the majority of his 2017 run with the rookie-level AZL Brewers, slashing .255/.294/.355 with 10 extra-base hits, 16 RBI and four stolen bases over 119 plate appearances. He currently holds a career .241/.324/.309 batting line, 33 extra bases and a .633 OPS through 668 PA.
Baseball is still on the back burner, however, as Mendez appears to have made little progress nearly a month following the hit by pitch. Thoughts go out to his family during this difficult time.