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Updated: May 3rd, 2010 5:33pm
Pregame notes: Mauer remains unavailable; heel improving

Pregame notes: Mauer remains unavailable; heel improving

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Joe Mauer remains unavailable for tonight's game with a deep bone bruise in his left heel. Wilson Ramos, who smacked four hits in his major league debut Sunday, will start and bat eighth.


"He feels better today than he did yesterday," manager Ron Gardenhire said about Mauer.

"He's still sore today, but he's better than yesterday. So we're just going day-to-day with him and let him make sure we get this thing well. That's why we brought another catcher up here."

Gardenhire said Mauer is staying away from "anything that puts a pounding" on the left heel, which includes running and most baseball activities. He'll continue to undergo treatment until further notice, but at some point the Twins will be forced to make a roster move if Mauer is unable to play this week.

"It doesn't do any good to put him out there too quick and just keep jamming it and have a bad heel for a month, so we're going to let him get well here, whether it's a day or two, I don't know," Gardenhire said.

Right hander Nick Blackburn is scheduled to return from the bereavement list tomorrow, and the Twins could send Jeff Manship back to class-AAA Rochester if they felt Mauer was close to returning.

But for now, Mauer's status remains uncertain.

Notes

* Due to Mauer's unavailability and the Twins being forced to carry three catchers, Gardenhire only has six bullpen arms to work with at the moment. The Twins usually carry seven bullpen arms.

"We're playing a lot of games in a row, and if you have a day off that makes it a little easier," Gardenhire said.

"Our starter's going to dictate how our bullpen does. If he goes deep then you don't have to use (as many) pitchers."

The problem with that theory is that tonight's starting pitcher Scott Baker has failed to go six innings in three of his five starts thus far, and his early season track record suggests his struggles aren't necessarily over with.

"I've heard a lot about April and the slow starts," Gardenhire said. "This is May. So we're going to turn it around and be fine in May. Starting tonight he's going to be good. So if he throws the ball down and uses all of his pitches, he has a track record of being a pretty good pitcher in this league. We think the world of him. He's had a bit of a rough go here, not getting the ball where he wants to. Maybe tonight's the night he turns it around."

Unfortunately for the Twins, Baker is actually worse in May (5.98 career ERA) than he is in April (5.42 career ERA).

* LHP Jose Mijares, who remains on the disabled list with tightness in his left elbow, threw a successful bullpen session today and may be set to return soon.

"Mijares threw great today," Gardenhire said. "He's going to throw another bullpen session in a couple of days, and eventually here, maybe by the weekend, we're going to try to get him down and let him throw a couple times to some other players from other teams and get him ready. But he's going along really good."

RHP Clay Condrey still feels soreness in his right elbow. There is no timetable for his return.

* Gardenhire said Jeff Manship is likely to be sent down to AAA when Blackburn is activated.

"We only have a couple of options," Gardenhire said.

The Rochester options Gardenhire refers to are RHP Rob Delaney (14 2/3 innings, 4.30 ERA, 18 strikeouts, five walks) and LHP Glen Perkins (15 innings, 9.00 ERA, 16 strikeouts, six walks).

Anthony Slama (16 1/3 innings, 1.10 ERA, 20 strikeouts, seven walks) and Kyle Waldrop (16 1/3 innings, 2.20 ERA, nine strikeouts, two walks)-- the two most appealing options -- are not on the 40-man roster.

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