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Published February 17, 2011, 04:10 PM

Mauer's Trying to Take it Easy in Spring Training

Joe Mauer says he's "just trying to take it easy" during Minnesota Twins spring training this year. That's a message Mauer is both heeding and leading.

By: Associated Press, WDAZ

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Joe Mauer says he's "just trying to take it easy" during Minnesota Twins spring training this year.

That's a message Mauer is both heeding and leading.

Mauer spoke Thursday at the Lee County Sports Complex, the day before the team's first official workout for pitchers and catchers. Coming off minor surgery in December to alleviate some swelling in his left knee, Mauer said it feels good enough for him to catch but acknowledged he is still getting treatment and doing strengthening activities to work his way back into optimal form.

"I'm just getting ready to go," Mauer said. "I'm just trying to get stronger and get ready for the regular season. I'll see what they want me to do. My main goal is to just start the season and play the whole year."

That's the key. Mauer has had his share of injury setbacks over his career, and playing such a physically demanding position doesn't help. That's why the plan is to ration some of his catching time this spring.

Mauer has also been encouraging All-Star teammates Joe Nathan (elbow) and Justin Morneau (concussion) to approach their spring training the same way, with each of them returning from more serious conditions.

"The ultimate goal is to get ready for April 1, not Feb. 20," Mauer said. "We're going to take it easy and make sure I'm ready for the year."

Mauer said he'll be "running around and doing everything" on the field in Friday's workout. He said he's not sure how often he'll be behind the plate in exhibition games, needing to balance his health with his desire to get to know some of the new or young relief pitchers he hasn't worked with much or at all yet.

Mauer is coming off a less-hectic offseason than last year, when the All-Star catcher dealt with all the attention from his contract situation. After signing a $184 million extension last March, Mauer's megadeal has begun.

"It turned into a little bit of a circus last year," Mauer said. "It's a different feel this year."

Still, his profile isn't getting any smaller. He spent the previous two days in New York, doing radio interviews, appearing on the "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" TV show and promoting a video game, "MLB 11 The Show," that will feature him on the cover.

Mauer said he's excited for the season to start, and the pitching staff he'll help guide will play a big part in Minnesota's success. Right-hander Scott Baker is among those in the rotation aiming to bounce back from an off year, and Baker has also found himself needing to heed the same take-it-easy message Mauer has been spreading.

Baker had surgery to remove bone chips in his throwing elbow in October, and he was speeding along in his recovery until feeling some discomfort two weeks ago and realizing it was best to slow down his throwing program.

"It's a little behind where I normally would be," Baker said. "I have to back off a little bit and let it calm down."

Baker said he simply tried to do too much too soon. He is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Saturday.

"I'm full-go, pretty much," Baker said. "It's just that I'm not where I'm used to being."

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