Mauer not sure when he'll return

Joe Mauer

Photo: Richard Tsong -Taatarii, Star Tribune

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PITTSBURGH - Joe Mauer has hit a speed bump in his recovery from a bruised right quadriceps.

The Twins had hoped that Mauer, who had made solid progress before Thursday, would be able to catch in the bullpen as part of his recovery process.

"That didn't happen," Mauer said.

He said there's still swelling in the quad that he has to work out before he can do more on the field and get back in the lineup. So he missed the entire series in Pittsburgh and might miss a couple games in Cincinnati this weekend.

"It's not much better than yesterday," Mauer said. "I thought I'd be able to do a little bit more. It's real frustrating."

It makes how he got hurt -- on a questionable slide into home plate by Milwaukee's Rickie Weeks on Sunday -- even more questionable because Mauer can't get on the field. He is able to pinch hit but will need a pinch runner if he reaches base.

"Yeah, but just to miss games in general," Mauer said. "I'm driving myself nuts sitting and watching, and I want to be out there. But I'm definitely not ready to do that."

"I'm just going day-to-day when they tell me he's going to be able to play," manager Ron Gardenhire said. Mauer has been knocked for his health issues in recent years but played in 60 of 65 games before getting hurt.

Ryan Doumit was back behind the plate Thursday, with Justin Morneau at first.

Duensing to start

Lefthander Brian Duensing began the 2009 and 2010 seasons in the bullpen but moved into the rotation during each of those years and helped pitch the Twins to the postseason.

After making 30 relief appearances this year, he's getting another opportunity to start.

"If I could throw like that it'd be great," he said. "I'm really hoping that will happen. I don't know. But hopefully I'll go out there and do well and give the team a chance to win and not hurt the bullpen too bad."

Duensing will start Saturday against the Reds, as the Twins rotation settles down after P.J. Walters landed on the disabled list last week. He should be able to throw between 50-60 pitches Saturday, and Gardenhire will piece things together from there.

"They got some pretty good lefthanded hitters over there in that lineup," Gardenhire said, referring to Joey Votto and Jay Bruce. "So you try a lefty over there."

Duensing began 2011 in the rotation but went 9-14 with a 5.23 ERA. Righthanded hitters clobbered him for a .330 average. Of the 21 homers he gave up, 20 were to righthanded hitters. This season, those hitters are batting .270 against him with no homers.

"When I've gone [inside] I've gone down and in, instead of up and in," Duensing said of his different approach. "I've been throwing strikes in there, and they have to be aware of that instead of disregarding that and look middle away. So that's been the issue, too. And I've had some good luck on top of it, too."

Etc.

• Now that Duensing is in the rotation, Glen Perkins is the team's only lefthanded reliever. The Twins started the season with lefties Duensing, Perkins and Matt Maloney in the bullpen.

• Oswaldo Arcia, a 21-year-old outfielder recently promoted to Class AA New Britain, was the only Twins prospect named to play in the All-Star Futures Game on July 8 in Kansas City.

• Right fielder Ben Revere, who grew up in Kentucky and lives in Lexington, purchased 56 tickets for friends and family during the series in Cincinnati. He just received the bill Thursday. "Basically, I'm playing for free," he joked.

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