- The Washington Times - Monday, October 12, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS | Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer has been playing with a sore hip flexor for the last week, an injury made worse by a stretch of must-win games that made taking the catcher out of the lineup a virtual impossibility for the past two weeks.

The likely AL MVP said Saturday he first felt the injury while rounding first base and tripping during the Twins’ win over the Detroit Tigers in one-game playoff last week for the AL Central crown.

“It’s been a long year,” Mauer said. “I’m banged-up, but that’s it.”

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Sunday he gave “no consideration whatsoever” to making Mauer the designated hitter, largely because the 26-year-old is dead set on playing and won’t give any inkling of how much he might be hurting.

“He is going to tell you the same thing he told me on the plane, ‘I have been playing with it for a few days, and I will continue to play with it,’ ” Gardenhire said. “I don’t think he ran the bases as good as he can, but he ran the bases, and he does have to run the bases because he keeps getting hits.”

Frosty future ahead

With temperatures in the Twin Cities hovering in the 30s all weekend and two to four inches of snow in the forecast for Monday, it was in the back of everybody’s mind what the Twins will be faced with in future postseasons - after they leave the Metrodome for open-air Target Field next spring.

The Twins’ near-legendary home-field advantage at the Metrodome will be gone, but of greater concern was how much effect weather could have in the future. It took the Twins nearly a decade to secure public financing for a new ballpark, and the prospect of putting a roof on Target Field - a $150 million proposition - was never seriously considered.

Gardenhire took a grin-and-bear-it approach to the possibility.

“It’s outdoor baseball. That’s what we got, and during the summer it’s going to be wonderful,” he said.

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