- The Washington Times - Friday, March 20, 2009

FORT MYERS, FLA. (AP) - Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer says he won’t be ready to play by opening day due to lingering pain and inflammation in his lower back.

The reigning AL batting champion says he isn’t sure when he’ll be able to return.

Mauer traveled to Baltimore last Saturday to seek a second opinion for dealing with the pain on the right side of his lower back.

Mauer has inflammation in the sacroiliac joint, which connects the spine to the pelvis. He had offseason surgery Dec. 22 to remove a blockage from one of his kidneys, but he says Friday that this injury isn’t related to that.

Twins general manager Bill Smith says the club doesn’t view the injury as a long-term problem but says doctors don’t have a timetable for Mauer’s return.

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