Gardenhire: Mauer's a catcher until he's not

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 1, 2011 - 6:31 AM

Twins catcher Joe Mauer

Photo: Jim Mone, Associated Press

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DETROIT - Joe Mauer wants to keep catching for the Twins, and the team has every intention of keeping him there.

But on Tuesday, manager Ron Gardenhire acknowledged that "if it doesn't work out when he comes back [from the disabled list], then we're going to have to figure somewhere else."

Mauer, 28, hasn't played since April 12 and appears at least two weeks from returning from the DL. His leg strength is back, but a right shoulder injury has delayed his progress.

Mauer is not scheduled to play in games the next two days because the Twins' extended spring training squad plays on the road at 10 a.m., and this doesn't allow time for Mauer to do the rest of his rehab work, Gardenhire said.

Gardenhire said there is no set date for when Mauer will start catching in games, adding that it's up to Mauer.

Asked if the Twins would consider having Mauer play another position this year, Gardenhire said, "No, Joe's a catcher. He's coming back as a catcher. He signed an eight-year deal to catch ... so we're trying to get him back as a catcher."

After adding that the Twins might need to consider another position for Mauer if he isn't able to catch, Gardenhire reiterated, "Right now, he's a catcher -- until Joe deems that he can't do it anymore, or we deem that he's not physically able to do that," Gardenhire said. "But we believe he is, if he just gets healthy."

Duensing's rough inning

After blanking the Tigers for four innings, Brian Duensing gave up six runs in the fifth inning. The damage included a throwing error by shortstop Matt Tolbert, but all six of the runs were earned, leaving Duensing's ERA at 5.37.

The Twins blew another lead later and went on to lose their eighth one-run game in May.

"It feels like every time you come to the ballpark it's a new day, but the way things are going, it's tough," said Duensing, who is winless in his past six starts. "I used to come to the ballpark excited to be here and want to work to get better and now it's really hard.

"It's hard to go out and compete with a positive attitude, and every time we're so close we just can't quite get there. It'll turn around, I think. If we keep sticking together, it'll eventually come around full-circle, I think."

Liriano update

Francisco Liriano said he had two specialists -- Dr. Lewis Yocum and Dr. James Andrews -- review the results of his latest MRI exam and was assured he has nothing more than inflammation and tendinitis in his left shoulder.

Liriano, 27, said the shoulder has bothered him off and on since right before spring training.

"You're never 100 percent," Liriano said, adding he sometimes changes his arm slot to find a more comfortable delivery. This helps explain the drop in his fastball velocity as well as his diminished command.

He thinks spending time on the DL will help and remains confident he'll be ready to start next Tuesday in Cleveland.

Etc.

• Jason Kubel (sprained left foot) said he felt a lot better walking around Tuesday and remains confident he'll be able to return to the lineup soon.

• Tsuyoshi Nishioka (broken left fibula) played seven innings Monday and made it through a full workout Tuesday with no problems.

• Glen Perkins (strained oblique) is close to throwing off a mound and could return from the 15-day DL soon after he's first eligible, on Monday.

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