Molitor: Mauer out of lineup for final 2 games

First baseman shut down with strained quad, expects injury to heal with rest

Molitor: Mauer out of lineup for final 2 games

CHICAGO -- Twins manager Paul Molitor met with Joe Mauer before Saturday's game against the White Sox and informed the first baseman that he didn't plan to start him in either of Minnesota's final two games.

Mauer has been dealing with a strained right quad since mid-August, and it's led to complications with his left leg as well. He's made one start dating back to Sept. 18, coming on Sunday against the Mariners.

"I talked to him today," Molitor said. "Throughout the week we've had the lefties and it's to that point now where his at-bats have been so limited I don't even know if it would be really even fair. I didn't plan to play him. I wanted to see where he was at with that. He said he prepared to be ready, but it was my choice not to play him. I think that's the right thing given the circumstances."

Mauer said he almost started Friday night and has been preparing himself to play every day, but he understood Molitor's decision. He said his legs should heal with rest in the offseason.

Molitor said looking back he should've placed Mauer on the 15-day disabled list instead of letting him play through the injury, as Mauer has hit .146 with a homer and 12 RBIs in 22 games since straining his quad in Atlanta on Aug. 16.

Mauer was hitting .284/.384/.417 before the injury, but will finish the year hitting .261/.363/.389 with 11 homers, 22 doubles and 49 RBIs in 134 games, barring a pinch-hit appearance.

Mauer's solo home run

"He was our best player early and he kind of leveled off for a while," Molitor said. "He got it going again there from late July through early August, but then the last six weeks roughly it's been a physical battle for him. There are things you can point out that were pretty good but other things where maybe it hasn't been what he hoped it was in terms of the entirety of this year."

Mauer said he'll reflect more on the season once it's over, but added it's been tough being part of a team that set the Twins record for losses in a season, especially considering they planned to compete this year.

"We didn't do what we thought we could do," Mauer said. "It was a lot of losses. Usually, the week after or two weeks after, I really look back and see what we can do to improve, myself included. But it hasn't been a very good year and there are a lot of things we can improve on."

Mauer is curious what the new front office will do to improve the team this offseason, and believes they can turn it around with their young talent, but that they need to cut down on their mistakes.

"There are some positives in there but it's hard to look at that right now," Mauer said. "But we'll try to build on those and correct the things we need to correct. I hope we're moving in the right direction. We have a lot of talent in this room, but people are figuring out you can't win on just talent. Sometimes you have to experience things to get better."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.