Viral infection the likely cause of Joe Mauer’s leg weakness

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There was plenty of uncertainty and concern last night when it was announced that Joe Mauer was going on the disabled list with bilateral leg weakness, but there’s at least some room for optimism at this hour.

According to Kelsie Smith of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Joe Mauer was taken to the hospital with flu-like symptoms yesterday and it was discovered that a viral infection is the likely cause of his soreness.

“It tells us that there’s probably a reason why he’s been so sore, and that is that his system is fighting a viral infection,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “It kind of helps us in knowing a little bit better in where we stand and what’s really going on.”

The initial diagnosis of bilateral leg soreness hasn’t changed, but it’s clear that Mauer’s illness has made his symptoms much worse. The Twins are confident that there’s no serious underlying cause for the weakness, nor are they concerned that this will be a lingering issue. If that’s the case, we may see him back on a baseball field sooner rather than later.

Mets invite Tim Tebow to spring training

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Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.

Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.

Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.