In the last six months, the American nation living rooms heard of Joe the plumber and Joe six-pack, who were introduced as iconic images during the 2008 U.S. Presidential campaign, carrying the hope of victory on their shoulders for the candidates who iconized them. This season, a lot of the hopes of victory for the Twins’ nation will be carried by the backs, arms and shoulders of three Joes: Joe Mauer, Joe Nathan and the newest Joe, Joe Crede.
A potential cause for concern is the possibility that these backs and shoulders might not be ready to bear the weight of everyday play by opening day and through out the season: Joe Crede comes into the season after back to back back surgeries. Joe Mauer had kidney surgery during the off-season and his back is still sore enough not to allow him to take the field so far this spring. Joe Nathan was scratched from the U.S. World Baseball Classic team, because of discomfort in his right (throwing) shoulder (AC) joint.
Even though Joe Nathan’s injury might be the least serious of the three (there are recent reports that he threw 25 pitches Thursday with no pain), he is the oldest of the 3 and the most likely to decline. Hopefully that will not happen before he finishes his contract with the Twins.
I have discussed Joe Crede’s back situation ad noseum here. So far this spring there has not been a single report of pain or discomfort in his back either batting or playing on the field. He did make a diving play this week and Gardenhire promptly reported that he felt no pain. On the other hand, his bat (other than a double against Puerto Rico, in an exhibition game) has been fairly silent. Lets hope that this is just a timing issue and not the silence of the Lamb.
Joe Mauer’s situation has been a bit more worrisome (at least to me), mainly because the reports seem to be a bit “template-based”. He had surgery to repair a kidney constriction that he had all his life. That much we know. To do that, a surgeon goes threw ones back or abdomen, cuts through muscle and takes care of the kidney. The kidney is not an issue with Mauer’s ability to play (if corrected and healed), the muscle healing is. All it was reported was that “Mauer is looking to be 100% by opening day” and (a couple days ago) “Mauer had a small setback”. I really do not like that “setback” noun, because it is non-specific. Yes, the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) applies to Joe Mauer as much as it to Joe Schmoe, but I am sure that fans are questioning (at least this one is) the nature of the “setback”. Was it something kidney-related (blood in the potty; sorry if this is too graphic) or was it something muscle-related? I have been trying to get information left and right these days about the nature of Mauer’s baseball-related ailment and it is just not there. Here is a simple question: How exactly is Mauer unable to play? I assume that he has problems getting to the crouch position, since that puts stress into the couple of muscles affected by the procedure (regardless whether it was through the back or abdomen) I’ve never heard a single report on (or got answers to questions about) whether he can swing a bat off a tee (edit, there was one a few hours ago, but you got to dig deep. And yes he can swing off a tee, which is extremely good news). I just wish Joe the best and I hope that he is healthy soon.
The ’87 Twins had their killer Gs (Gladden, Gaetti, Gagne.) These ’09 Twins are poised to be the killer J’s even if the Joes are not 100%. In the 40-man roster there are:
3 Jasons, Kubel, Jones and Pridie
2 José’s, Mijares and Morales, and
1 Justin (who sometimes is mistaken for a Jason,) Morneau
This makes me confident.
This post has been brought to you by the letter J and the number 90, which is how many wins I project for the Minnesota Twins for the 2009 season (more on that next week)