"Joe is really sore," manager Ron Gardenhire said of the reigning AL MVP on Sunday before the Twins played the Cleveland Indians.
"We're going to rest him until it is right," Gardenhire continued. "We don't want to risk things. If I play him, it will never heal. I have to protect Joe. He said it really hurt just to put his cleats on."
The Twins recalled catcher Wilson Ramos from Triple-A Rochester and the Venezuelan made his major league debut against Cleveland. To make roster room, right-hander Pat Neshek was placed on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation of his right middle finger.
Mauer hurt the heel Friday night when he awkwardly stepped on first base as he lunged to beat out an infield single. Rookie Drew Butera played all 11 innings in a 5-4 loss to the Indians.
"I was really nervous the whole game with only one catcher," Gardenhire said. "When there was that collision, my blood pressure went crazy."
In the 10th inning, Cleveland's Lou Marson crashed into Butera trying to score.
Gardenhire said he wanted to try and get Ramos to Cleveland before Saturday's game and when he couldn't, the manager went around the clubhouse asking for volunteers to serve as an emergency backup.
"Orlando Hudson said he'd do it," Gardenhire said of the chatty veteran who has never played any position but second base in nine seasons. "He'd wear out all the opposing hitters just talking to them."
With closer Joe Nathan out for the season after elbow surgery, Gardenhire is particularly wary of losing another key player.
Mauer is fifth in the AL with a .345 average. A year ago, he become the first catcher to be voted AL MVP since Ivan Rodriguez for Texas in 1999, hitting .365 to win his third batting title, with 28 homers and 96 RBI.
Neshek had a 4.15 ERA in 4 1/3 innings over six outings. He missed all of 2009 rehabbing from Tommy John surgery in May 2008.
"He said his finger and hand just didn't feel right, so we'll send him down and let him build up arm strength," Gardenhire said. "He walked a guy and hit another the last time out and told me he needed to pitch."