Twins first baseman Joe Mauer was on the field early Monday, taking grounders, making throws to second and running in the outfield as he recovers from a right oblique strain. He plans to take some dry swings (not off the tee or against any pitching) Tuesday.
An oblique strain takes a while to calm down. Mauer said he’s making progress but still feels some discomfort.
“It’s a slow process,” said Mauer, who was injured July 1 while hitting a double against Kansas City. “[Monday] was better.”
This is the first time the Twins have had a player with an oblique strain since 2011, when there seemed to be some kind of oblique outbreak. Delmon Young and Jim Thome both missed 19 games, Glen Perkins missed 23, Tsuyoshi Nishioka missed 15 and Brian Duensing missed 10.
Mauer missed his 16th game Monday, but that doesn’t include the four-day All-Star break. So this injury already is worse than some of the others in 2011, and Mauer hasn’t started hitting yet.
“You just never know,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We just have to wait and see how it progresses.”
Mauer said this is the first time he’s strained an oblique muscle and hopes it’s his last. He spent the All-Star Game with his family in one of the suites at Target Field.
He’s not a fan of being only a fan. He said he told his family during the game: “I hope I don’t have to join you up here [for good] anytime soon.”
Righthander Yohan Pino is here and will start Tuesday against Cleveland, as expected. Lefthander Kris Johnson was optioned to Class AAA Rochester to clear room for Pino on the active roster.
Pino was sent to Class AAA Rochester before the All-Star break to remain on somewhat of a routine — and to make room for Johnson to be added in time to start on July 11 against Colorado. Pino started Thursday against Norfolk, giving up five earned runs over five innings on three hits — and seven walks
Pino said pitching with six day’s rest threw him off schedule. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire didn’t seen too concerned either.
‘‘He told me he was working on a few things,’’ Gardenhire said. ‘‘We’ll just leave it at that.’’
The Twins now need a starter for Thursday’s series opener against the White Sox, with lefthander Logan Darnell a leading candidate to be called up for that one. After Tuesday, Pino will start Sunday against the White Sox. The Twins have an off day Monday, so everyone can be pushed back a day in the rotation.
Buxton gets exam
As a precaution, Class A Fort Myers outfielder Byron Buxton had an x-ray on his right wrist after being hit with a pitch Friday. The results came back negative.
Buxton, who has missed most of the season because of a sprained left wrist, missed his third consecutive game Monday and might miss a couple more.