Evans Clinchy
Sunday January 29th, 2012

After a 2011 season significantly hampered by various injuries, knee and otherwise, Twins catcher Joe Mauer now says he's optimistic about the 2012 season.

"The knee's been feeling great," Mauer told MLB.com. "The last year and a half, just trying to compensate for that kind of took a toll on my whole body. I don't think it's going to be an issue. I'm feeling good, so I'm excited."

Mauer underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair his left knee after the 2010 season, and he missed most of spring training in 2011 recovering. On the whole, he was limited to just 82 games last season, missing a big chunk of April and May plus being shut down for good on Sept. 14. Mauer's health problems last season included leg weakness, neck stiffness, a viral infection and an upper respiratory infection that turned into pneumonia.

After leading the American League with a .365 average, .444 on-base percentage and .587 slugging in 2009, Mauer's health has led to a decline over the last two seasons. He's optimistic that 2012 will be a bounce-back season. "This is the best I've felt in a long time," he said. "I'm excited about that."

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