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Updated: September 27th, 2010 7:29pm
J.J. Hardy (knee) returns to Minnesota; Thome (back) might join him

J.J. Hardy (knee) returns to Minnesota; Thome (back) might join him

by Phil Mackey
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Heading into the final week of the regular season, the Minnesota Twins are trying desperately to get everybody healthy for a playoff run.

It might be a race against time.

Manager Ron Gardenhire told reporters in Kansas City Monday that shortstop J.J. Hardy was sent back to Minnesota for further examination on his sore left knee. Hardy underwent an MRI on Sunday that showed no structural damage, but the soreness still persists.

Hardy had previously battled wrist injuries earlier this season.

Gardenhire also said designated hitter Jim Thome will be sent back to Minnesota on Tuesday for treatment on his back. Thome has been sideline for a week with a knot in his lower back. He tried to take batting practice on Monday, but still felt discomfort.

The thought behind sending Thome and Hardy back to Minnesota is that they can use the training facilities at Target Field.

As for catcher Joe Mauer -- who has been sidelined since last week with a sore knee -- he is expected to take batting practice all week and could return by Wednesday.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd