The Minnesota Twins are getting worried about their All-Star catcher.
Joe Mauer has been hampered by back pain, slowing his rehabilitation from offseason kidney surgery. The reigning American League batting champion will undergo a magnetic resonance arthogram Tuesday. Doctors will inject his back and stomach area with dye as part of the exam.
“We’ve got to figure out what’s going on so we can get him back and get him on the field,” manager Ron Gardenhire said Monday after Minnesota’s 4-3 victory over Tampa Bay in Port Charlotte, Fla. “This is another effort to try to figure out where we are at and what we need to do. He’s not on the field yet. He’s not able to consistently go out and do anything. Concerned? Yeah.”
Mauer had surgery Dec. 22 to remove a blockage from one of his kidneys and had been limited to working out in the weight room and conditioning drills. He hit .328 with nine homers and 85 RBIs last season.
Mike Redmond, the Twins’ backup catcher, started against Tampa Bay and went 0-for-3, dropping his spring average to .091.
Minnesota outfielder Delmon Young hit a two-run homer and finished with three RBIs against his former team. Young, the first overall pick in the 2003 draft, was acquired from the Rays in a six-player deal in November 2007.
Scott Kazmir pitched two innings for the Rays, yielding one run and three hits in his first outing this spring.
“Everything felt incredible. That’s seriously the best my arm has ever felt,” he said. “At the same time, I felt like I wanted to take it easy this first start. I knew once I got out there and got a hitter out there in a real game, the adrenaline was going to be there so I didn’t want to overdo it.”
The New York Mets are feeling better about Johan Santana, who tested his left elbow during another bullpen session in Port St. Lucie, Fla. The two-time Cy Young Award winner is scheduled to make his Grapefruit League debut Thursday night against Florida.
The Mets got a pinch-hit grand slam from Nick Evans in the eighth inning and a game-winning solo shot by Rene Rivera in the ninth to beat the Orioles 9-8. But on a day when Miami Dolphins executive Bill Parcells and coach Tony Sparano visited camp, it was Santana who took center stage.
“This is a great time for him to start getting ready,” New York manager Jerry Manuel said.
Santana, who has been slowed by tightness in his pitching elbow, looked sharp, throwing all his pitches, including his slider. Now, the Mets appear ready to turn him loose on a course that should lead to Santana starting on opening day in Cincinnati.
“I think at the beginning we have to be a little cautious with pitch counts, innings, those types of things,” Manuel said. “I don’t expect him to be cautious, I expect him to compete and that’s what he does best. You can never take an athlete who has that and ask him to tone that down. You won’t get the same guy.”
Mets reserve outfielder Angel Pagan had an MRI exam in New York that showed a bone spur in the back of his right elbow. The injury could require surgery.
At Bradenton, Fla., Jon Lester had much more to say about his outing than he did about his future.
The left-hander threw 57 pitches in his third spring training start, and a makeshift Boston Red Sox lineup outslugged the Pittsburgh Pirates 15-14 in a 10-inning game that lasted 4 hours, 10 minutes.
Lester’s outing came one day after Yahoo.com reported that he and the Red Sox had agreed to a $30 million, five-year contract extension with a $13 million club option for 2014, pending a physical Tuesday.
The Yahoo! Sports report cited an unidentified source close to the team. Lester, however, said no deal had been completed.
Asked if he was scheduled to take a physical, Lester replied: “I have no idea.”
“I don’t know what the schedule is the next couple days. I’m sure when they’re ready to announce anything if there’s anything to announce, they’ll do it. So, I’ll just show up and do what I’m told,” he said.
Lester said there was no contract agreement pending, to his knowledge, but he would welcome the stability of a long-term deal.
“Oh yeah, I think anybody (would),” he said. “But now nothing is final and nothing is written in paper or written in stone. So, like I said, I just show up and do what I’m told and go where I’m told to go, and that’s all I can worry about.”
In other news:
—Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez underwent arthroscopic surgery in Colorado to repair torn cartilage in his right hip, and doctors said they found nothing that would prevent him from returning to the lineup in May.
—Eric Chavez’s surgically repaired right shoulder bothered him when he was hitting during Oakland’s exhibition game Sunday, forcing the Athletics to push back his spring debut in the field.
Chavez was scheduled to play third base against the Los Angeles Angels on Monday but was scratched, and manager Bob Geren said there was no timetable for his return.
—Shin-Soo Choo will be examined by team doctors at Cleveland Indians camp Tuesday.
The outfielder complained of a sore left triceps last week while playing for South Korea during the World Baseball Classic. Choo had ligament transplant surgery in his left elbow in 2007.
Reds 8, Phillies 4
At Clearwater, Fla., Cole Hamels pitched 2 2-3 innings in his Grapefruit League debut, allowing two runs and two hits with three strikeouts. Ryan Howard hit his fourth homer of the spring and Geoff Jenkins also went deep.
Blue Jays 6, Yankees 2
At Tampa, Fla., Andy Pettitte felt so good in his first spring training start that the Yankees let him pitch longer than his scheduled one-inning stint. Pettitte allowed one hit over 1 2-3 scoreless innings.
Athletics 5, Angels 4
At Phoenix, Bobby Crosby made his debut at third base for Oakland and said it was the first time he had played there since a Little League All-Star game when he was 11. After the Athletics signed Orlando Cabrera last week to be their shortstop, Crosby started preparing for a utility role.
Dodgers 13, Rangers 7
At Surprise, Ariz., Jason Schmidt threw two pain-free innings for Los Angeles. Andruw Jones hit one of Texas’ three home runs off Claudio Vargas, who could be the Dodgers’ No. 5 starter if Schmidt isn’t ready for the season.
Padres 16, Diamondbacks 3
At Tucson, Ariz., Jon Garland, working on developing a cutter and a curveball, was rocked for six runs and six hits in 2 1-3 innings.
Cubs 9, Royals 1
At Mesa, Ariz., Mike Fontenot, making a big push to win Chicago’s second base job, went 2-for-3 with a homer and a double as Chicago ended a six-game skid. Alfonso Soriano hit a two-run homer off struggling Brian Bannister.
Indians 9, White Sox 3
At Phoenix, Grady Sizemore went 3-for-3, scored twice and drove in two runs in his second game back after a groin injury. Chicago starter John Danks allowed six runs, five earned and eight hits in two innings.
Giants 8, Brewers 6
At Scottsdale, Ariz., Barry Zito gave up two runs and five hits in two innings for San Francisco. Brian Rohlinger won the game with a three-run homer in the ninth, his third ninth-inning homer in four days.
Marlins 1, Tigers 0
At Jupiter, Fla., Josh Johnson, projected to be Florida’s No. 2 starter, allowed five hits over five innings.
Nationals 8, Astros 6, 10 innings
At Viera, Fla., Austin Kearns hit a three-run homer and a double for Washington, further proof that his reconfigured batting stance and work with new hitting coach Rick Eckstein has been beneficial.