The good news is that Twins catcher Joe Mauer has arrived in Fort Myers, Fl., reassuring friends and teammates that his knee is "100 percent" healthy and that he expects no setbacks for 2008.
The bad news is that Mauer said virtually the same thing last year, when -- just a month into the season -- he went on the disabled list for 32 days with a strained quadricep before having to be reassigned to Class A for a rehabilitation.
For the record, in addition to the quad strain, Joe Mauer's 2004 meniscus cleanup is well behind him, and technically meniscus surgery is the best kind of knee surgery to have. That is to say, if you must have knee surgery, maniscus repair offers a full chance of recovery in time, and Mauer has had more than enough time to feel confident about his durability.
And yet, anyone -- let alone a 6 foot five, 220-pound man who squats for a living -- remains highly vulnerable to arthritic repercussions as the result of any invasive trauma at the knee joint. So for Mauer, arthritis is more a question of when, rather than if.
Mauer's bravado and the Twins willingness to keep Mauer behind the plate instead of moving him to designated hitter, first base or third indicates that no such arthritic condition is on the horizon for now, and with any luck might not appear until after Mauer retires.
In the meantime, fans can enjoy watching one of the best young catchers in the game, and see that he still offers outstanding play behind the plate, can continue to his for average, and hopefully not only stay healthy but maybe even begin to hit with power.