MINNEAPOLIS -- Justin Morneau has been cleared to begin non-baseball activities, Twins head trainer Rick McWane said before Thursday's game against the Royals.
Morneau underwent neck surgery on June 29 to repair a pinched nerve, and is expected to be out until at least mid-August.
"He's been working out, doing some cardio," McWane said. "He can do pretty much what he wants to in the weight room and off the field. But he's not going to throw and swing for about another week or so."
McWane also gave updates on several other injured Twins.
Kevin Slowey (abdominal strain) is scheduled to start on Friday for Triple-A Rochester. McWane said he expected Slowey to be limited to about 90 pitches.
Scott Baker, who skipped his last start due to a right elbow strain, is scheduled for a bullpen session on Friday afternoon.
"His elbow feels a lot better," McWane said. "We anticipate him making a start on Monday."
Thome has been battling a sprained toe on his left foot, and was a late scratch on Thursday afternoon.
McWane said Thome felt better, but wanted to run around and test it out before returning to the lineup. Thome was available to pinch-hit against the Royals.
Span waiting on clearance to take next step
MINNEAPOLIS -- Denard Span is ready to begin a rehab assignment soon. But he has to be cleared first by Major League Baseball.
Span, who suffered a concussion on June 3 in Kansas City, said on Thursday that he may have "jumped the gun" a little on Wednesday in saying he was cleared for a rehab assignment. But his doctor did tell him Wednesday he was ready.
"Honestly, I just got out of the doctor [Wednesday], and listening to the doctor, he said, 'Let's do a rehab assignment. I think you're OK with a rehab assignment,'" Span said. "I probably should have waited until I checked with the trainers and everybody else."
After joining the Twins in Chicago and participating in pre-game workouts, Span saw the doctor in Pittsburgh, who said Span should be OK to begin a rehab assignment.
Span and the Twins are now just waiting to hear back from the league office regarding his clearance, Twins head trainer Rick McWane said.
"It's probably going to take him a couple days just to get back on the field and start taking batting practice and running around," McWane said. "Hopefully, in that timeframe, we can get approval and then he'll be ready to go about the same time we get approval. But I can't give you a timeframe. I don't know how long MLB's going to take for this."
Span was hesitant to say he felt 100 percent, but said he felt like he was ready.
After suffering the concussion on June 3, Span played three days later, but has not been back since going on the seven-day disabled list on June 9.
Now that he's feeling better, all that time off has made Span anxious to get back on the field.
"I feel good enough to go out there and try to see if I can play," Span said. "I want to go out there and play. If I didn't feel like I was able to push myself, I wouldn't go."
Kubel gearing up for rehab stint at Triple-A
MINNEAPOLIS -- If everything goes well over the next two days, Jason Kubel hopes to get to Rochester on Saturday for a week of rehab with the Twins' Triple-A affiliate.
"I'm going to shag some balls first, see how that feels," Kubel said. "That's kind of what got me last time."
Even if he doesn't get started by Saturday, Kubel said he expected to join the Red Wings sometime in the next week.
Twins head trainer Rick McWane said Kubel got out on the field Wednesday, ran around and "felt great, a lot better than last week."
Kubel has been on the 15-day disabled list since June 2 with a sprained left foot, and a setback two weeks ago has extended the length of his rehab.
When the injury originally occurred, Kubel did not expect to even go on the DL.
Part of the problem, Kubel said, is that the original injury to the Lisfranc (upper) part of his left foot resulted in him overcompensating and aggravating the plantar fascia area on the bottom of his foot.
"It was both," Kubel said of when he reinjured his foot. "But the days after that, about five or six days after that, the bottom was about as worse as it's been in a while."
Plouffe slated for utility role with Twins
MINNEAPOLIS -- Last time he was with the Twins, defensive issues at shortstop played a part in Trevor Plouffe getting sent back to Triple-A Rochester.
Plouffe rejoined the big league club on Thursday, and now that he's back, Plouffe is going to see time at a number of different positions, with shortstop no longer being his No. 1 option.
"He's definitely going to play some first base up here, there's no doubt. He's going to mix it up," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Definitely there, third, outfield, he's been playing them all. Short, second, just about anywhere you can run him out there and see what happens if you need him."
In his most recent Minor League stint, Plouffe played several games in the outfield and, at Gardenhire's request, was then moved to first base. Plouffe was originally in the lineup at first base Thursday, but with Jim Thome being a late scratch, he was moved to designated hitter.
Plouffe was hitting .313 with 15 home runs and 33 RBIs when the Twins recalled him.
"He's got his confidence back, and that's a big part of baseball," Gardenhire said.
In a brief session with reporters -- which was interrupted by Gardenhire to get Plouffe back to finish up his work at first base -- Plouffe said the position changes have helped him focus.
"At first, I thought it might take away from it, but when I started moving around I started having a little bit of fun," Plouffe said. "It's kind of like I rediscovered baseball, if you will. It was exciting, I didn't know where I was going to play."
Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.