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Updated: June 17th, 2011 5:29pm
Notebook: Kubel, Span at least a week away; Thome getting close?

Notebook: Kubel, Span at least a week away; Thome getting close?

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Jason Kubel and Denard Span won't be back in the Minnesota Twins lineup for at least another week.

Head athletic trainer Rick McWane said before Friday's series opener against San Diego the team has ruled out Kubel (sprained foot) and Span (whiplash/concussion) for next week's three-game set at San Francisco.

Kubel took batting practice with teammates on Friday but "is still experiencing some discomfort when running in the outfield and particularly in lateral movements," McWane said, while Span "is making slow progress, but we still haven't gotten him on the field yet to do any baseball activities."

Meanwhile, designated hitter Jim Thome (back/quadriceps) took batting practice again on Friday in Fort Myers, Fla., and is "very close to playing in games," McWane said. But manager Ron Gardenhire indicated the team will take its time making sure Thome is ready, especially with six upcoming interleague games at San Francisco and Milwaukee in which no DH will be used.

"I can't tell you how long it's going to be," Gardenhire said of Thome, who is on the disabled list for the second time this season.

"So, when he's ready and healthy and we deem it's the right thing for him to get at-bats or the right to come and join us and get one a game maybe in the National League cities, then that's what we'll do. But first we have to see where he's at."

Testing Nathan

Closer Joe Nathan (elbow tenderness) is scheduled to join Triple-A Rochester for a rehabilitation assignment on Saturday and could rejoin the Twins as soon as Friday in Milwaukee if all goes well.

Gardenhire said Nathan will pitch in several games for the Red Wings before the Twins consider activating him, with at least two of those appearances on back-to-back days -- something he still hasn't done since undergoing Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow in March 2010.

"He says he feels great, the arm feels as good as it can feel," Gardenhire said. "So, throw a couple games, or at least one game, and then go back-to-back. To get three games out there, that'd be great, and then we'll see where we're at with him."

Mauer returns

As expected, Joe Mauer was in the lineup on Friday for the first time since he went on the disabled list in April.

That meant another lineup adjustment for Gardenhire, who had infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka in Mauer's usual No. 3 slot in his return on Thursday. On Friday, Mauer hit third and Nishioka was in another surprising spot -- No. 7, ahead of designated hitter Luke Hughes and right fielder Jason Repko.

"It's not easy, but you just have to kind of adlib a little bit and try to break the lineup down into pieces," Gardenhire said. "You put Mauer in the 3-hole, you've got pieces there, and you've got Nishi and (Jason) Repko down towards the bottom, so that speed that can flip over.

"You know what? Put (Luke) Hughes in the middle, a good hit-and-run guy. I figure Nishi gets on, maybe you hit and run with him or let Nishi steal and see if Hughsie can drive him in. You just start looking and kind of break the lineup up a little bit and see what happens."

Perkins, too

Reliever Glen Perkins also was back in uniform on Friday, and Gardenhire said he wouldn't hesitate from using the left-hander in the eighth inning, where he was thriving before an oblique injury sent him to the DL on May 21.

Perkins threw three scoreless innings over two appearances in a rehab stint at Rochester before rejoining the Twins on Thursday. When he went on the DL, he had a team-best 1.59 earned-run average in 22 2/3 innings over 22 appearances.

"He was getting a lot of big outs for us," Gardenhire said. "The ball was coming out of his hand (well). So, I have no problem putting him right back out there, whether it's facing lefties or righties. You pick the right inning out -- if it's left-right-left or left-right-right, I'm not afraid with Perk, because he's throwing the ball so well."

Quick hits

• RHP Kevin Slowey (abdominal strain) was scheduled to throw long toss on Friday and Saturday in Fort Myers, then go through a full bullpen session on Sunday. "He's pretty optimistic that he can start facing some hitters sometime next week," McWane said.

• 1B Justin Morneau's sore left wrist will remain in a cast for another week, and there will be no updates until the cast comes off.

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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