FORT MYERS, FLA. - There were encouraging developments for the heart of the Twins batting order on Tuesday.
Twins first baseman Justin Morneau, recovering from a concussion suffered last July, went to Pittsburgh for a check-up with the chance of being cleared to play in spring training games. Meanwhile, outfielder Michael Cuddyer went to Eagan to have a plantar wart removed from his left foot.
Morneau has been working his way back from a concussion suffered on July 7 and reported to camp symptom-free for a few weeks. The Twins have provided limited details on Morneau's visit this week. Barring developments, it's expected the check-up will be the final hurdle to him playing in spring training games.
Cuddyer, who was back in Fort Myers by Tuesday evening, had the wart removed by Dr. Charles Crutchfield and is expected to miss one to two weeks. Cuddyer reported to camp with the wart on his foot after trying have it frozen twice during the offseason.
The Twins wanted the wart removed now to begin the recovery process and reduce the risk of him missing time during the regular season, and Cuddyer agreed.
"It wasn't getting any better," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He'll miss a couple weeks now. Good decision, in my opinion."
The other key member of the Twins lineup -- catcher Joe Mauer -- hasn't appeared in a spring game either and is taking Supartz lubrication injections in his knee.
There's still no idea when Mauer will play in games. He will have to catch in the bullpen first, and the Twins have kicked around when that could happen.
"His knee feels good," Gardenhire said.Kaat joins staff
Twins great Jim Kaat, the winningest pitcher in Twins history (189), will join the Twins spring training coaching staff from Sunday through Friday. Kaat, 72, is expected to be a special instructor like Rod Carew, Tony Oliva and Harmon Killebrew have been over the years.
As for Killebrew, Twins President Dave St. Peter said the former slugger continues to undergo treatment for esophageal cancer and still hopes to appear in spring training before camp ends.Etc.
• St. Peter said the club should hit its ceiling of 25,000 season ticket equivalents soon. With that out of the way, the club will be able to release more seats for single-game ticket sales. Single-game ticket sales begin at 10 a.m. March 19.
• The Twins will play host to Tampa Bay on Friday, but the teams also have scheduled a "B" game to take place at 9 a.m. on one of the back fields. Lefthander Francisco Liriano will start the "B" game with righthander Kevin Slowey starting the official game.On deck
The Twins will head to Bradenton, Fla., to take on the Pittsburgh Pirates at 12:05 p.m. today. Lefthander Brian Duensing is scheduled to start for the Twins while righthander Ross Ohlendorf will start for the Pirates.
LA VELLE E. NEAL III