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Updated: September 7th, 2013 7:41pm
Joe Mauer takes step toward returning, joins team in batting practice

Joe Mauer takes step toward returning, joins team in batting practice

by Brandon Warne
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Joe Mauer continues to make progress in his return from a concussion suffered during a makeup game with the Mets on Aug. 19.

Mauer joined his teammates Before Saturday's game for a full session of on-field batting practice. It was a bit of a surprising twist, since he just took an early round of batting practice alone before Friday's game.

The primary difference between the early round on Friday and the full round on Saturday is that the team session pregame includes running the bases. In other words, Mauer felt good enough to increase his exertion level Saturday to include most of his usual pre-game routine.

Previous reports had suggested that Mauer's concussions symptoms were recurring as his heart rate became elevated. So to that end, this most recent step seems like progress.

It was also encouraging that Mauer was able to join his teammates on the bench for Friday evening's game, as crowd noise and camera flashes could typically be considered triggers for concussion symptoms. General manager Terry Ryan said he didn't necessarily know if that was the rationale behind Mauer joining his team on the bench, but that it certainly couldn't hurt.

Mauer has maintained all along that he intends to return this season, and the Twins have maintained that they hope it's as a catcher. But ultimately, that will come down to the training staff and the player.

Ryan also noted that Mauer won't need to go on a rehab stint, where the options would be either with the Red Wings on their playoff run or to the instructional league. Entering Sunday, the Twins have 22 games remaining in the season.

Brandon Warne covers the Minnesota Twins for 1500ESPN.com. He has also contributed as a baseball analyst for Fangraphs.com and BaseballProspectus.com
Email Brandon | @Brandon_Warne
In this story: Joe Mauer
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