While Joe Mauer took batting practice Friday — early BP and a round with the team — Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said he is more and more comfortable with the possibility that Mauer will play before the end of the regular season.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt that will happen,” Ryan said. “He hasn’t had any setbacks. He’s making progress every day.”
Ryan also expects Mauer to return to catching. Why? Because Mauer told Ryan so during a recent conversation.
“I’m going to tell you what he has said,” Ryan said. “He wants to catch. If it comes to that, where he is good to go and he wants to catch, we will catch him.”
Mauer, in an interview with the Star Tribune on Thursday, said doctors have given him the go-ahead to slip back into catcher’s gear once he recovers from a concussion suffered on Aug. 19 when a foul ball hit him in the catcher’s mask. Mauer said this week that he is still dealing with symptoms, so he will not be cleared to return to action until those have ended.
But he continues to add a little more activity every day, a good sign that he is recovering. He looked like his old self during early batting practice, taking easy swings early then taking harder rips later.
“At least he’s out there getting acclimated,” Ryan said. “He’s getting a little better every day.”
Mauer watched Friday night’s game from the Twins dugout.
The Blue Jays had a lead on the Twins even before the first pitch was thrown Friday. The Toronto bench sagged from the weight of all the extra players called up for the final weeks of the season.
With Class AAA Rochester in the International League playoffs, the Twins have elected to hold off their callups and have 26 players on the active roster — one more than the league maximum up to Aug. 31. Toronto, meanwhile, has 32 active players available during the series. As of Sept. 1, teams can call up anyone on their 40-man roster.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire pointed out that some Blue Jays players are coming back from injury, which is inflating the roster. Still, he had to make fun of the 14 relievers that Toronto manager John Gibbons, an old friend, has available this weekend.
“That’s a lot of things we have to write down on a baseball card,” Gardenhire said. “There’s no way we can match up with all of that. He’s got six lefties and 18 righties in the pen alone. We could be here all night.”
Ryan said there have been discussions about ways to even out rosters after Sept. 1 but that no solution has been found.
“That’s one of the topics of discussion for September callups,” Ryan said.
• Twins infielder Doug Bernier has been bothered by a sore right elbow in recent days. Gardenhire noted how Bernier likes to get a lot of throwing in before games, which might have led to the soreness.
• Outfielder Darin Mastroianni was not in the starting lineup Friday, as Gardenhire said he was a little beat up following the previous few games. He should be fine in a day or two.
• Blue Jays outfielder Anthony Gose is good friends with Twins prospect Aaron Hicks. They both grew up in California and spent time at the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton. When Hicks and the Twins visited Toronto in July, Gose was in the minors. The tables have been turned now, as Gose is up with the Blue Jays while Hicks is with Rochester. Gose doubled in his first at-bat Friday.