Joe Mauer diagnosed with pneumonia, done for season

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Joe Mauer’s mess of a season is now over prematurely, as he’s been diagnosed with pneumonia and the Twins have shut him down for the final two weeks.

Mauer missed a handful of games late last month with what the Twins called an upper respiratory infection and previously sat out two months with complications following offseason knee surgery.

While not as productive as his usual self Mauer had played fairly well since coming off the disabled list in mid-June, hitting .312 with a .390 on-base percentage and .795 OPS in his last 66 games while seeing significant time at first base in addition to catching.

He finishes the first season of a seven-year, $184 million contract with career-lows in nearly every category, including a .287 batting average and .729 OPS in just 82 games. Mauer has been a lightning rod for criticism in Minnesota all year and this certainly won’t help matters, although the Twins stopped having anything to play for weeks ago.

Now the Twins will just hope that a full offseason of rest and rehab will get the former MVP and three-time batting champ fully healthy for 2012, because with Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Denard Span all question marks physically it’ll be tough to count on them turning things around following arguably the worst season in team history.

The Cubs will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday

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The Cubs soundly defeated the Cardinals on Monday night, 10-2, sending their magic number down to one. They will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday with another win against the Cardinals. Alternatively, if they lose, they can still clinch if the Brewers also lose on Tuesday.

The Cubs, of course, won the Central last year en route to winning their first World Series since 1908. It wasn’t nearly as easy this year as the club was below .500 entering June and was exactly at .500 entering July. A 16-8 July, 17-12 August, and 15-8 September have helped put the Cubs back in position to return to the postseason.

Not to be forgotten, the Cardinals were eliminated from NL Central contention with Monday’s loss. Now they have their sights set on the second NL Wild Card slot and currently trail the Rockies in that race.

The matchups for Tuesday’s action:

Carter Capps to undergo surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome

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Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that Padres pitcher Carter Capps will undergo surgery this offseason to address thoracic outlet syndrome, which doctors believe caused the right-hander’s blood clots. The Padres hope to have him ready by spring training next year.

Capps, 27, underwent Tommy John surgery last year and didn’t debut this season until August 7. He made 11 relief appearances, yielding nine runs on 12 hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings. He went back on the DL on September 12 due to the blood clot issue.

The Padres acquired Capps from the Marlins last July in the Andrew Cashner trade which ended up having a lot of moving parts. Capps will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility this offseason. It’s quite possible the Padres choose to non-tender him.