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Updated: June 9th, 2011 5:53pm
Notebook: Joe Mauer back on Tuesday? Ron Gardenhire still not sold

Notebook: Joe Mauer back on Tuesday? Ron Gardenhire still not sold

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Joe Mauer continues to get closer to returning to the Minnesota Twins' lineup, but manager Ron Gardenhire still isn't speculating about when the All-Star catcher will be ready.

On the disabled list since April 12 with a variety of issues, Mauer resumed catching last week at the Twins' extended spring training in Florida and was scheduled to make another start behind the plate for the Single-A Fort Myers Miracle on Thursday night.

"I think he's caught 22 innings (entering Thursday), and I don't believe 22 innings is enough catching to say you're ready to go up here and start the grind of catching four days in a row, five days in a row," Gardenhire said before Thursday's series opener against the Texas Rangers.

"I would like to see more innings and I would like to see him totally ready."

Mauer is eligible to come off the DL on Sunday. Former Twin Paul Molitor, who has spent time around Mauer the past week, told 1500 ESPN on Thursday afternoon he believes Mauer could be back as soon as Tuesday's game against the Chicago White Sox.

"His best day, no question, was (Wednesday)," Molitor said. "He got through eight innings defensively very cleanly. (He) threw the ball well -- threw a guy out at third, threw a guy out at second. If anything, his at-bats are still not clicking. They're not typical barreling up balls."

Gardenhire said he would like Mauer to spend some time at Triple-A Rochester, too, before he returns to the big-league club. The primary concern about Mauer returning too soon is whether ramping up his workload quickly could have the same effect it did late in spring training, when he broke down physically and quickly landed on the DL.

"We're all on one side here," Gardenhire said. "We're all trying to get him in the right position and the right situation. It's getting him healthy. It's not about sides or anything like that. It's trying to do the right thing with the trainers and the doctors and the right thing for Joe.

"He's anxious to get back up here. He wants to play. He's missed a lot of baseball games. On the flip side of that, we have to make sure he's ready to get back up here. We have to make sure that he can catch three, four days in a row, and that's the biggest thing for me."

Span has whiplash

Center fielder Denard Span still was undergoing tests when Gardenhire and head athletic trainer Rick McWane met with the media.

But the early word is Span has whiplash, contributing to the dizziness and neck stiffness he was experiencing when Gardenhire scratched him from Tuesday's lineup.

No decision had been made about putting him on the DL, McWane said.

Quick hits

• An MRI showed only fluid buildup in 1B Justin Morneau's sore left wrist, which had Gardenhire asking Morneau if he wanted to go on the DL last week. "No structural damage, so we will let him continue to play as tolerated," McWane said. Morneau was in the lineup as the designated hitter on Thursday, with Luke Hughes taking his place at first base.

• After undergoing an MRI on his hip, quadriceps and back, DH Jim Thome will receive an epidural to deal with quad pain that is originating from a previous injury to his back, McWane said, adding that the team has consulted outside back specialists. "That should take care of the symptoms he's having in his quad," McWane said, "and if that works, then we'll progress his baseball activities this weekend." Thome previously was on the disabled list from May 3 to May 24 with an oblique strain. He'll be eligible to come off the 15-day DL on June 17.

• RF Jason Kubel (left foot) "hit in the cage, played catch and did some agility drills, felt OK," McWane said. "We'll progress his baseball activities through the weekend."

• IF Tsuyoshi Nishioka (fractured fibula) was scheduled to make another start with Fort Myers on Thursday. He's eligible to be activated from the 60-day disabled list, but Gardenhire said he doesn't want Nishioka "rushed up here. ... I would like to see him go to Triple-A and get in a little thicker competition, Triple-A ball, seeing some pitching and all that. He's not been swinging great. So, I want to see him go full-out."

• LHP Glen Perkins (oblique strain) threw a bullpen session on Thursday, felt great and is headed to Toledo to join Triple-A Rochester for a rehabilitation assignment, McWane said. The Twins' best reliever before his injury on May 21, Perkins is scheduled to throw an inning on Saturday. He become eligible to return from the DL on Monday.

• RHP Joe Nathan (right elbow) also threw a bullpen session, felt great and will throw another on Saturday, McWane said. If that session also goes well, Nathan could be sent to Fort Myers to begin a rehabilitation assignment as soon as Saturday night.

• RHP Kevin Slowey (abdominal strain) threw long toss from 120 feet and had no complaints, McWane said.

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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