Sunday, April 17, 2011

'Yogi Berra Plan' a Cure for Mauer's 'Cyberchondria'

Whether sidelined Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer suffers from so-called 'cyberchondria' the early stages of arthritic knee or merely a virus, one thing is for certain: There is no cure better than the 'Yogi Berra Plan.'

The plan -- being advanced by Minneapolis Star-Tribune columnist Patrick Reusse -- brings to mind the creativity of the New York Yankees some 50 years ago when the team wanted to work emerging young catcher Elston Howard into the lineup.

Because Howard was blocked by Yogi Berra behind the plate, Berra was moved to left field. The Twins could do likewise with Mauer, who has undergone invasive knee surgery and currently is out of the lineup due to "bilateral leg weakness,' potentially linked to neurological and spinal complications involving structural deficiencies related to an arthritic knee.

Because Mauer's contract binds him to the club for the next six years, his absence from the lineup set off a round of blogosphere 'cyberchondria,' a newly termed phenomenon in which commentators, pundits and prognosticators peruse online medical texts to determine his pronosis.

 Look, take it from Doctor X, a licensed physician: Joe Mauer suffers from the advanced manifestations of a trauma-induced arthritic knee, a condition that will grow worse and worse until is fairly safe to predict that barring a miracle, if Mauer finishes his career in a Twinkies uniform, he certainly won't be wearing it behind the plate.

 Does that mean he can't finish this season as a catcher?  No. What it means is that Mauer's time is running out, and the sooner he stops spending a couple hours a day squatting the better off he'll be.

It also means that because outfielder Delmon Young's contract is coming up, a potentially costly negotiation, it is time to trade Young in a deal that will bring back a young catcher, and to move Mauer to Young's spot in the outfield.

 For the Twins, it's a matter of health.