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Updated: June 15th, 2011 2:51pm
Joe Mauer will rejoin Twins on Friday: 'I'm ready to get out of here'

Joe Mauer will rejoin Twins on Friday: 'I'm ready to get out of here'

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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Barring a setback in the next 48 hours, Joe Mauer will be back in the Minnesota Twins' lineup on Friday night.

The team confirmed Mauer's return late Wednesday afternoon, hours after the All-Star catcher took batting practice against deposed closer Joe Nathan in Fort Myers, Fla., and declared his lengthy rehabilitation complete.

"It was a lot longer than I had hoped," Mauer told the News-Press. "But I got my work in, and I worked with a lot of great people down here. It was nice, but obviously I want to be up there in Minnesota and be up there playing. I feel like I'm ready to get out of here."

According to head athletic trainer Rick McWane, the plan is for Mauer to fly back to the Twin Cities on Thursday "and be ready to go on Friday" for the series opener against San Diego. Manager Ron Gardenhire said there's "a really good chance" Mauer will catch in his first game back.

"Everything went good," Gardenhire said of Wednesday's BP session. "He took I don't know how many at-bats off of Nathan, swung the bat really good, hit the ball hard. Everything went good."

Mauer hasn't played in a big-league game since April 12, shortly before the Twins put him on the disabled list with what was officially called bilateral leg weakness. It later was revealed he was dealing with shoulder, elbow and knee soreness, too, and his absence passed the two-month mark over the weekend.

But Mauer has reported no ill effects in recent weeks while seeing game action with the Twins' extended spring training squad and then the Single-A Fort Myers Miracle, and there had been strong indications in recent days Mauer's return could come in Friday's series opener against the San Diego Padres.

General manager Bill Smith said on Tuesday the team would re-evaluate after Wednesday's batting practice session, which reportedly included Nathan throwing 30 or 40 pitches to Mauer and prospect Miguel Sano.

"I threw (Mauer) some pretty good breaking balls," said Nathan, who is rehabbing an elbow injury.

"It's really just impressive to see the pitches he can take when he's down 1-2 in the count. I threw him a couple of sliders. He put a good swing on them. It's nice to see him find his swing again and start to feel good again."

In seven games with the Miracle, Mauer was 6-for-23 (.261) with two doubles, a home run, six RBIs and no errors.

Phil Mackey contributed.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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