Mauer experienced his first true "setback" yesterday, when he was set home from Target Field with concussion-like symptoms. From Rhett Bollinger:
Mauer took batting practice on the field over the weekend but worked out inside on Tuesday and Wednesday. But Wednesday was the first time that Mauer had to shut it down early, according to Twins general manager Terry Ryan.
"He didn’t have a good day," Ryan said. "It’s a concern more than frustration. You gotta feel for the guy. He just didn’t feel good today so we went him home. This wasn’t a good day and I don’t want to hide that at all. So he’s home and hopefully he comes back tomorrow feeling better and he’ll get back on track here."
Ryan elaborated on the assertion manager Ron Gardenhire made earlier in the day that Mauer was 'irritated' by the whole situation, saying that the catcher simply didn't feel well after working out today, and was sent home.
Nobody needs to be reminded that this is the exact kind of injury that knocked Mauer's friend, former teammate, and future Twins Hall of Famer Justin Morneau out of action for over a year, and that when Morneau returned he was a shell of his former self. Both the knee that Morneau took to the head and the foul tips that Mauer endured all came up against a helmet, but while they can protect a player from any number of things helmets can't stop concussions.
It's a scary situation not just because the Twins are without their star player, but because of the damage that brain injuries can cause to an individual. It's hard not to envision a similar scenario unfolding for Mauer that we've already seen unfold for Morneau.
The Twins still haven't officially shut down Mauer for the season, but effectively his year is over. With just a couple of weeks remaining on the schedule, nothing to gain, and yesterday's "setback", entertaining the notion of getting Joe back into the lineup and pushing him through workouts isn't just pointless, it's dangerous. Perhaps the front office isn't saying it yet, but they know as well as anybody else that there is nothing here left to gain except Mauer's health in the future, and, after that, keeping him in the lineup long term.
Mauer's 2013 ends with another great line: .324/.404/.476. A typical Mauer season. Hopefully the concussion symptoms pass soon, and hopefully as a result he'll be good to go come spring training in February. But for now, he needs time. No doubt the organization feels the same way.
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