Updated: May 8th, 2010 11:06am
Pregame notes: Joe Mauer getting close

Pregame notes: Joe Mauer getting close

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Joe Mauer made more progress today in his attempt to return from a bruised heel. He took batting practice and jogged around the bases before game one, and manager Ron Gardenhire said he will get in a crouch and catch down in the batting cage as well. Mauer has also done some running on the indoor track.


"He's feeling a lot better, running around," Gardenhire said. "He said the shoes, those orthodics that he had put in there feel really good. They make it feel a lot better, so he's getting really close to activity here as far as playing games."

When asked if Mauer was available to pinch hit for today's games, Gardenhire didn't rule it out.

"He's getting real close. So we'll see after this morning's events how he feels out here."

Notes

* Francisco Liriano has been lights out this season, but he is also coming off a career-high 123 pitches in his last start. Yesterday's rainout may have been a blessing in disguise.

He was fine, and everything felt good, but yeah, you get an extra day's rest and all those things. We'll see. We'll see if he's not too strong now and overthrowing the ball. Hopefully he'll be able to handle this. I'm sure there's going to be problems with gripping the baseball in the weather, but we'll fight through it. They'll fight through it too."

Gardenhire was also pleased with how Liriano bounced back from a shaky first inning in his last start, when he gave up two runs in the first inning against Cleveland.

"[To] not get overcome by it," Gardenhire said. "Just kind of take a step back and regroup and start finding his fastball again. I think that's a sign of maturing and growing up as a pitcher."

* Shortstop J.J. Hardy (wrist) is still sore, and remains unavailable for today's doubleheader. Brendan Harris will start instead and bat eighth.

* The Twins are still carrying only six relief pitchers, which could make things dicey for a doubleheader. That said, because the starting pitchers went so deep into games last week, and because the Twins have off-days surrounding Saturday and Sunday, the bullpen situation is much more manageable.

"You play the first game and do whatever you have to do to win that ballgame, then you go to the second game," Gardenhire said. "If you get thin in the second one, then guys are going to have to stretch out a little bit."

* RHP Jeremy Guthrie (0-4, 4.78 ERA) will start game one for the Orioles, with RHP Kevin Millwood (0-3, 3.15 ERA) facing Scott Baker (3-2, 5.35 ERA) in game two.

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.
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