Mauer targets Friday return to Twins
After normal soreness, backstop won't hasten comeback
CLEVELAND -- Joe Mauer called Twins manager Ron Gardenhire on Saturday and asked him to "keep an open mind" about possibly activating him from the disabled list earlier than expected. A few hours later, Mauer had a little different thought about the club's original Friday target date for his return."[Mauer] went into the manager's office [in Fort Myers, Fla.] and said, 'Maybe they were right,'" Gardenhire said. On Saturday, Gardenhire told Mauer he might consider moving up the catcher's return, possibly to as soon as Tuesday, if the he was able to play all nine innings behind the plate for Class A Fort Myers on Monday without any problems. But after catching seven innings on Friday and Saturday for Fort Myers -- the first time he had caught on back-to-back days since last season -- Mauer was experiencing some normal soreness in his legs. "The old catcher's butt," Gardenhire said. It was enough for the catcher to realize that waiting until Friday for his return to the Twins might be the best move. "It's amazing that when you're right, a player actually says that," Gardenhire quipped. "It's kind of what we were talking about, that he needs a little more time. Everything is good -- the back, the whole package -- but he was a little heavy-legged yesterday and he could feel it." Mauer is now expected to stick with his original schedule. That means Mauer will play four more games with Fort Myers and his target return will be on Friday when the Twins open a three-game series against the Royals at the Metrodome. On Sunday, Mauer was the designated hitter for Fort Myers and he's scheduled to catch back-to-back nights on Monday and Tuesday. With a morning game for Fort Myers on Wednesday, Mauer will DH again and then he'll get a day to rest on Thursday -- an off-day for both the Twins and Fort Myers. One thing that Gardenhire reiterated on Sunday was that the club wants to make sure Mauer will be ready to catch back-to-back games when he returns. The skipper has said that Mauer won't be catching five straight days, but will instead follow a schedule where he'll likely catch for two days and then get a day off. Those will be actual days off for Mauer and not games in which he is the DH. "I have a DH and I have four outfielders that need to play," Gardenhire said. "I can't play all them anyway right now. If I have to DH [Mauer], then other guys start losing at-bats." Gardenhire said he might consider using Mauer in the DH spot as things go along, but that's not the ideal situation with only two catchers on the roster.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.