- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 22, 2011

FORT MYERS, FLA. (AP) - The Minnesota Twins aren’t planning on moving Joe Mauer to another position anytime soon. He just won’t be behind the plate very much at the start of spring training.

Mauer received a shot of medication Tuesday that general manager Bill Smith said will lubricate his surgically repaired left knee, and the Twins plan to keep his workload light early in camp.

Mauer had minor surgery in December to alleviate some swelling in his knee, and manager Ron Gardenhire said the plan is to ease him back into catching as the spring wears on to keep him as fresh as possible for opening day. He’s not going to be catching batting practice or in the first few games of the exhibition season.

“You’re not going to see a lot of him behind the plate right now, doing the squatting,” Gardenhire said. “We’re going to stay away from a lot of that.”

Mauer hit .327 with nine homers and 75 RBIs last season and won his third straight Gold Glove. He is entering the first season of a contract he signed in 2010 that added $184 million over eight seasons.

The physical demands of catching on such a prized hitter has been a point of discussion among Twins fans for years. But part of Mauer’s value is the fact that he plays such an important defensive position while also bringing a high level of offensive production.

The Twins want him to take it easy during spring training and reduce the workload so he can get through the grind of the long regular season.

“He’s feeling a lot better,” Gardenhire said. “You can see him out there moving and feeling great and we want to keep it that way. So we’re going to kind of guard him and back him off and we’ll eventually get him in the ballgames, too.”

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