COMMENTARY | On Aug. 20, Joe Mauer was placed on the seven-day disabled list for a concussion.
A little more than a week later, there are whispers that the six-time All-Star catcher isn't ready to rejoin the team after becoming eligible to come off the list.
Here we go again.
"How long will Mauer milk this one?" says a theoretical Mauer basher. "I paid $40 for my ticket, and I don't get to see him because he got a little bump on his head? Maybe those twins he just had are making him sleepy and Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire is just coddling him. Gardy's got to go! #INJUSTICE!"
If you could read that over the sound of me banging my head against a wall, you'll know that Twins fans have had a hair trigger when it comes to bashing their future Hall of Fame catcher when it comes to injuries.
Maybe you can't blame them after the fiasco in 2011 when the state of Minnesota was introduced to something called bilateral leg weakness. That strange diagnosis lead to Mauer missing roughly half of that season and turned many fans off to their hometown hero.
As we look ahead to today, the Twins need to realize that any public backlash is worth not having to risk any further injury to their $184 million catcher in a meaningless September.
Having Mauer ride the pine has its benefits. Of course, there's the fact that he can use the final month to rest up and get ready for an offseason that will hopefully lead to some of the team's superb prospects making their way to Minneapolis in 2014. Yet, there's more to it.
With Mauer resting, it will allow some of the younger players to get a chance at the major league level. Backup catcher Chris Herrmann is the most obvious beneficiary of this, but the Twins should use this philosophy with a majority of their young players to see if they can succeed with some better competition.
An example of that would be Chris Colabello, who just completed a mammoth season at Triple-A Rochester and was called up to replace Mauer on the roster. For a team that's struggling to manage any sort of power, it's a good idea to add somebody who hit 24 home runs in 338 at-bats with the Red Wings.
"You just want the Twins to turn into a Triple-A team?" another skeptic screams. "Are you protecting the Pohlad family's wallet?"
Not at all. As mentioned before, some of the Twins "valuable pieces" haven't been able to get the job for three years now. It's time to move on and see what they can do.
The first step in that process heading into 2014 is to protect the asset they have behind the plate and let the kids play. It may be an unpopular decision with the fans, but many times those are the ones that lead to quick turnarounds.
Chris Schad is a lifelong Twins follower that has spent a majority of his life cheering the Twins on through the dark '90s and success of five American League Central championships in the 2000s. His work has also been published on Bleacher Report and Pro Football Spot. You can follow him on Twitter @crishad.
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