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m9505 BC-BBA-Twins-Mauer 1stLd-Writethru 05-06 0492

Mauer heads to DL with strained quad

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By JON KRAWCZYNSKI

AP Sports Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — With their cleanup hitter and starting left fielder already sidelined with injuries, the Minnesota Twins took their biggest blow yet on Sunday.

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All-Star catcher Joe Mauer was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left quadriceps muscle after Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox.

Mauer had an MRI exam on Sunday morning and missed his second straight game. Test results revealed a strain, and the Twins recalled catcher Chris Heintz from Triple-A Rochester to take Mauer’s place on the roster. The move is retroactive to May 5.

The injury has bothered the reigning AL batting champion for most of the season, but it really flared up while he was running the bases in Friday night’s loss to Boston. Mauer was a late scratch from the lineup Saturday night after the quad tightened up on him during batting practice, and he said it was still very sore on Sunday morning.

"It’s tough," Mauer said after the game. "Nobody wants to be on the disabled list. You want to go out there and help your teammates. It’s not really something I’m used to."

This is the second time Mauer has been placed on the disabled list. He was shelved in 2004 with a torn meniscus in his left knee.

Mike Redmond started in his place again on Sunday and will handle the bulk of the catching duties while Mauer recovers. The 36-year-old Redmond hit .341 last year as Mauer’s backup and is hitting .246 this year.

"I’ll go until I drop," Redmond said when asked if his body can handle being the full-time catcher. "It doesn’t matter to me. That’s what I’m here for."

Mauer appeared in 28 of Minnesota’s first 29 games and is hitting .353, fifth best in the American League when the day began. He said he wasn’t sure how much time he would miss.

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"You don’t want to put a timetable on it," Mauer said. "It could be two weeks, or it could be more. Hopefully it’s not much more."

The Twins are going to be extra cautious with the 24-year-old Mauer, who puts stress on the quad every time he crouches his 6-foot-5 frame behind the plate.

"We’ve got to protect that young man," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We’ll need him down the road."

The faster, the better for the Twins, who have been gutted by injuries this year.

Cleanup hitter Michael Cuddyer missed his fifth straight game on Sunday with a bruised back, and the team is hoping he can return by Tuesday. Left fielder Rondell White is on the disabled list with a torn calf muscle and Jeff Cirillo just returned from knee surgery.

"A lot of teams are banged up, too, but it seems like we’ve been having a guy go down every other day," Mauer said. "Hopefully, this will be the end of it."

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