03/11/09 11:10 PM ET
Mauer diagnosed with inflammation
Twins will consult other doctors before deciding how to treat back
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
The sacroiliac joint, often referred to as the SI joint, is where the base of the spine meets the top of the pelvis. It's the area where Mauer, 25, has been experiencing pain when he's tried to run this spring.Twins doctors, led by Dr. John Steubs, have been treating Mauer for pain in the joint, Twins general manager Bill Smith said, and the exam seemed to confirm that the team was at least "in the right spot" with their treatment. "It's been a little bit perplexing, the pain," Smith said during a briefing with reporters on Wednesday night. "We're confident that we're treating the right area. It's one of those things where we have had a tough time pinning down the exact source of the pain. Our medical team will continue to talk to some other specialists in that area. We'll work on getting this thing resolved." Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said on Wednesday afternoon that the Twins would use a more aggressive course of medication to treat the inflammation, but Smith said that won't be determined until the team's physicians have consulted with specialists of the SI joint. "We are going to look at possibly changing to a different medicine," Smith said. "It's just too early to tell. I hate to say it. Everyone wants an answer now." Mauer first began experiencing pain and discomfort in his back toward the end of last season. Smith said that while trying to determine the source of Mauer's back pain, doctors discovered a kidney obstruction and performed surgery to eliminate it on Dec. 22. While the surgery relieved some of Mauer's pain, it is not believed to be related to the catcher's current problems. "For his long-term health, it was a great thing to do," Smith said of the surgery. "Now the pain that remains is not related to the kidney." Mauer was at Twins camp on Wednesday, continuing to do the core strengthening work that he's been doing since reporting for Spring Training last month. But Mauer told a team spokesman that he would prefer to get more information on his situation before commenting on it. Just when Mauer might be able to join his team in full workouts is still unknown. Smith said that Mauer will continue to do the cardio and strength exercises that he's been doing this spring as they determine a course of action for him. The trainers have been working to make sure those exercises don't aggravate the pain in the SI joint. Mauer caught some bullpen sessions and hit off a tee in the batting cage in recent weeks, but he backed off on-field activities after the back pain lingered. The good news is that Mauer has not been bothered by the back pain while he's swinging a bat, catching or throwing -- only when he's tried to run. "He's been making progress in various areas," Smith said. "He just has this one area that we're looking to resolve." While Mauer's availability for Opening Day on April 6 could still be in doubt, as it's now less than four weeks away, the fact that his latest exam showed no additional problems was a relief for the Twins. "You are thinking that it could be something huge with the way it's been going," Gardenhire said. "But, obviously, it's the same thing. They just haven't gotten it under control yet."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.