MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins will be without starting catcher Joe Mauer for at least two weeks after an MRI revealed a strain in his left quad muscle and the team placed him on the 15-day disabled list. Mauer has been battling a sore quad for nearly the entire first month of the season, but he only felt the increased pain and stiffness in his leg on Friday night while running the bases in a game against the Red Sox. He came to the park on Saturday and took batting practice before having to pull himself out of the lineup. And after seeing the results of Mauer's MRI on Sunday morning, the Twins made the decision that it was most important to give the catcher time to let the injury heal.
"He's a catcher and squatting a lot, so we have to let this thing calm down," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's been fighting it and trying to play through it. Now, it's just time to let it get better. There is some swelling in there and we have to protect that young man. We need him down the road." The way the strain was explained to Gardenhire is that it developed as a result of an impact to the leg. It's a strain often seen in football players who take heavy impact, although Mauer couldn't remember an exact time when he took a blow to the leg that might have caused the injury. Standing before a group of reporters, Mauer showed the spot of the strain on the top of his left leg and a bump was clearly visible where the swelling is taking place. The DL stint is for just 15 days, but the injury could take even longer than that to heal. Mauer was trying to be cautious in his estimate of his return. "You just don't really know," Mauer said. "I don't want to put a time frame on it. I know I'm going on the DL, so it will be at least two weeks. It could be two or it could be more. Hopefully it's not much more." The Twins will bring up catcher Chris Heintz from Triple-A Rochester to help split the catching duties with the team's usual backup, Mike Redmond. The 36-year-old Redmond, who has a history of getting nicked up behind the plate, won't be able to catch every day, so he and Heintz will switch off. Heintz, 32, began the year with the club and appeared in just one game before being optioned back to Rochester on April 11. Heintz has seen playing time in just 11 career Major League games. As for Redmond, he's set for any task that comes his way. "I'll go whenever they need me," Redmond said after Sunday's 4-3 loss to Boston. "I'll go until I drop. That's what I'm here for." Still, even with Redmond being a solid option behind the plate, there is no question it's a tough blow to the club to lose the top hitter in its lineup. Mauer has batted .353 in 28 games this season with 18 runs scored and 14 RBIs. "When you have guys like that missing in the lineup, you are going to see a different look," Torii Hunter said. "Who can step up and do what Mauer does? All we can do is keep these guys focused on getting hits, and try to make something happen." Mauer's injury is just the latest for the club, as the injury bug has bitten the team pretty hard early in the season. So far, the Twins have seen Rondell White and Jeff Cirillo both record stints on the DL, with White still out of action for at least another three weeks with a tear in his right calf muscle. The team has also had to deal with prolonged absences of second baseman Luis Castillo, right fielder Michael Cuddyer and pitchers Dennys Reyes and Jesse Crain due to nagging injuries. Knowing how beat up the offense has been made the news of his DL stint all the more difficult for Mauer. "I want to be in the lineup helping those guys out," Mauer said. "These guys will be fine, but it kind of stinks that I can't go out and help them, too." As for when this string of injuries will come to an end, Mauer remained optimistic. "Hopefully we're getting it all out early," Mauer said. "We've been banged up with both pitching and our offense. A lot of teams are banged up too, but it seems like we have one guy go down after another. Hopefully this is the end of it."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.