By La Velle
Twins catcher Joe Mauer has been more and more active this week as he works his way back from a sore sacroiliac joint.
He’s spent this week catching bullpen sessions at the team’s year-round headquarters at Fort Myers, Fla. He’ll take a big step tonight when he catches Scott Baker’s bullpen session, take batting practice with the Miracle and take infield.
Baker will start on Friday in what the Twins hope will be proof that his shoulder soreness is completely gone. If all goes well, Baker will join the Twins next week.
As for Mauer, it appears that he’s getting closer to running. How close? The word I heard was, “soon.”
“He’s not running yet. I have not seen it,” said Jim Rantz, the Twins director of minor leagues, who is in Fort Myers. “He’s doing everything else. Maybe this will be the last thing he does before he starts that.”
The following is all speculation, but once Mauer runs, and if he has no setbacks, it shouldn’t be too long before he tries to play in games down there. He’s been riding a bike and hitting the elliptical, so it’s not like he’s been totally dormant. The question is how long it would take him to get up to game speed - because machines can only do so much.
Clarification: I was reminded a few moments ago that Mauer also has been running in a pool, which really gives him a good workout while reducing the pounding on his back. In fact, if he’s cleared to play in minor league games it might come down to how many at-bats he feels he needs before telling the club he’s ready to go.
The Twins believe Mauer will play before the month is over. I think Twins fans should pretend he’s out until the end of April and be surprised if he comes back before that.
My wild guess: Apr. 27 vs Tampa Bay at the Dome.
I’m at the Dome to work ahead on weekend stuff. Joe C. has the game. In fact, he’s just appeared with the lineup sheet, so you might want to swing over to his site…..