Minneapolis, MN (Sports Network) - The Minnesota Twins suffered a mighty blow to their infield on Wednesday when they learned that rookie catcher Joe Mauer needs surgery to repair a medial meniscus tear in his left knee.
Mauer, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list, was hurt in the top of the third inning of Tuesday's 7-6, 15-inning victory over Cleveland when he attempted to make a sliding grab of a foul ball behind home plate at the Metrodome. Mauer remained in the contest, but seemed to aggravate the injury while rounding third base on a single by Luis Rivas in the bottom of the third.
Before this season, Mauer had never played above the Double-A level. A left-handed hitter who turns 21 later this month, he headed into this season as the favorite to win AL Rookie of the Year honors. He was replacing A.J. Pierzynski, who was traded to the Giants in the offseason, behind the plate.
The youngster was looking good while getting hits in three of his first four major league at bats. He also scored two runs before suffering the injury.
Mauer was named the 2003 Minor League Player of the Year. Standing at 6'4", Mauer, a native of St. Paul, hit .341 with four homers in 73 games at the Double-A level after hitting .335 with one homer in 62 games at Class A.
Now the Twins will be forced to go with either Henry Blanco or Matthew LeCroy at catcher.
Minnesota replaced the roster spot vacated by Mauer when they purchased the contract of pitcher Seth Greisinger from Triple-A Rochester.