The Minnesota Twins' announcement that they were placing Joe Mauer on the 15-day disabled list with bilateral leg weakness was unusual, at the very least. If Mauer has weakness in both legs -- meaning that strength testing reveals true deficits as opposed to his just feeling soreness -- the spectrum of possible causes raises the level of concern. Although there is too little information at this point to speculate about a cause, prognosis or timetable for return, what can be said is that it is highly unusual for both legs to become weak simultaneously. Typical orthopedic injuries such as strains, sprains, bruises and breaks, even pinched nerves tend to occur on one side of the body.
There are other unusual aspects to Mauer's case.
According to MLB.com, Twins senior vice president and general manager Bill Smith said Mauer is also feeling ill with flu-like symptoms. Coincidence? Or part of the picture?
Smith also said that Mauer is traveling to Baltimore to consult with his doctor. In 2009, when Mauer was unable to start the season because of inflammation in his sacroiliac joint (where the spine meets the pelvis), he consulted with a specialist (although what type of specialist was never revealed) ... in Baltimore.
Here's what I wrote on Mauer back in April 2009 when the symptoms he exhibited appeared puzzling:
This ranks right up there with the most unusual of baseball injuries. Then again, Mauer has a history of complicated and unique injuries. Mauer underwent surgery last fall to address a kidney obstruction, with the hope that it would remove the back pain he had been experiencing late in the season. After some initial relief, the symptoms returned and prevented him from running at all this spring. Further testing revealed inflammation at Mauer's right sacroiliac joint. The finding in and of itself is highly unusual, especially in the absence of trauma, even more so following an offseason of rest and recuperation from surgery. The Twins insist that new medication should be enough to address the problem, but inflammation is generally a symptom, not a source ...
Of course, Mauer returned the next month and went on to have an MVP season. It appeared the issue was behind him. But was it?
Whether this weakness is a new issue or something related to Mauer's past medical history is unclear. Perhaps we will learn more as to the source of his symptoms after he undergoes further evaluation. In the meantime, the hope is that Mauer's condition represents only a temporary setback, nothing more.