Mauer's return set for Friday

The catcher is finally ready to play.

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Joe Nathan threw live batting practice to Joe Mauer while working out with the Fort Myers Miracle minor league team on Wednesday.

Photo: John David Emmett, The News-Press via AP

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Twins catcher Joe Mauer, slowed for two months by injuries and maladies, is expected to return to the team Friday, in time for a three-game series against San Diego.

Mauer has spent about a month working out in Fort Myers, Fla., at the team's year-round facility, slowly distancing himself from bilateral leg weakness, a viral infection and a sore and weak shoulder that have kept him out of the lineup since April 12.

He appeared in seven games with Class A Fort Myers, batting .261 with a homer and six RBI. On Wednesday, he took some swings off reliever Joe Nathan, who is in Fort Myers working his way back from a sore elbow,

"The plan is for him to travel back here tomorrow and be ready to go on Friday," Twins trainer Rick McWane said of Mauer.

Mauer told the Associated Press that his recovery definitely has taken longer than he had hoped.

"But I got my work in, and I worked with a lot of great people down here,'' Mauer said. "It was nice, but obviously I want to be up there in Minnesota and be up there playing. I feel like I'm ready to get out of here."

Mauer's shoulder had been the bigger problem in recent weeks but, during a game last week, he threw out base runners trying to steal second and third in the same game.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire expects Mauer to be ready to catch when he arrives.

"Everything went good," Gardenhire said. " He took I don't know how many at-bats off of Nathan. Swung the bat really good. Hit the ball hard."

Nishioka arrives

Shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka has not played an inning in Target Field yet. He suffered a broken left fibula April 7 while in New York during the Twins' season-opening road trip.

Nishioka has recovered. He worked with Hall of Famer Paul Molitor on turning double plays and had rehabilitation stints at Fort Myers and Class AAA Rochester.

"I'm looking forward to playing in front of the fans here in Target Field," he said through an interpreter. "So it will be a very special moment for me."

Gardenhire didn't start Nishioka on Wednesday, giving him a day to get settled. Nishioka was available to pinch hit and is expected to be in the lineup Thursday.

Gardenhire has received good reports on Nishioka, including one from his son, Toby, who is playing for the Red Wings.

"He's been running all over the place,'' Ron Gardenhire said. "In Triple-A they said he was everywhere. He was flying all over the place, and it was fun to watch. He was having a good time playing baseball. He enjoyed being around those guys, and nothing but good reports."

Gardenhire said Nishioka will take over at short, with Alexi Casilla moving to second. Dusty Hughes was outrighted to Rochester to make room on the 40-man roster for Nishioka.

Etc.

• Lefthander Glen Perkins (right oblique strain) threw 28 pitches Tuesday at Rochester so he won't be activated until Friday, when he's good and rested.

• First baseman Justin Morneau (left wrist strain) will be in a cast for about 10 days.

• Nathan (elbow) wants to be activated, but Gardenhire said Nathan must go to Rochester first.

• Designated hitter Jim Thome (back, quad) and outfielders Jason Kubel (left foot sprain) and Denard Span (concussion) are making progress.

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