With the Twins aching for Joe Mauer’s return, not even Paul McCartney can stop him. Mauer will begin taking batting practice on the field Wednesday, and manager Ron Gardenhire expects the first baseman to be ready for a rehabilitation assignment by the time the Twins return from a six-game road trip.
McCartney is playing a concert at Target Field on Saturday, but Gardenhire doesn’t think that will disrupt Mauer’s mission.
“He’s going to hit it right through the drums,” he said before Sunday’s 4-3 victory over the White Sox. “He’s going to knock the guitars right off the stage.”
Gardenhire is beyond ready to see Mauer knock the cover off a baseball again. He has been on the disabled list since July 2 because of a strained right oblique, leaving a particularly deep void in a team with multiple issues.
Mauer hit off a tee Sunday and is scheduled to take batting practice in the cage Monday and Tuesday before testing his swing at Target Field through the rest of the week.
“Getting Mauer back is going to be huge,” Gardenhire said. “We really need him desperately; he’s a big cog in our lineup, and we need to get him back on the field.
“That’s important for our baseball team, not only because of what he does on the field, but the whole package, him being around the guys and everything. He’s a calming influence.”
General Manager Terry Ryan said he will look over the schedules of minor league affiliates this week to decide where to send Mauer for the rehab assignment. He would prefer to place Mauer with Class AAA Rochester, where he would face the best available competition.
All in line
Beginning Tuesday, Gardenhire said, the Twins rotation is expected to return to some semblance of order. Kyle Gibson, Phil Hughes and Ricky Nolasco all threw bullpen sessions Sunday; Gibson and Hughes are expected to make their scheduled starts during the road trip to Kansas City and Chicago.
With Nolasco still on the mend from a right elbow strain, Gibson, Hughes, Kevin Correia, Logan Darnell and Yohan Pino will form the starting five.
Though Darnell gave up seven runs on 11 hits in his first major league start Saturday, Ryan liked his persistence and said he earned another chance. Nolasco will accompany the Twins on the road and will continue throwing in the bullpen before embarking on a rehab assignment.
Oswaldo Arcia will be getting a mild lecture from his manager after smashing his bat over his right thigh in the sixth inning Sunday. Following his third strikeout against White Sox starter Scott Carroll, Arcia spun out of the batter’s box and snapped the bat over his leg, splintering it.
Though Gardenhire said that isn’t the kind of behavior he wants his players to show the public, he didn’t fault Arcia for his fire.
“I would rather have him break it swinging than over his knee,” Gardenhire said of the outfielder, who went 6-for-28 (.214) during the homestand. “But the kid is working hard, and he’s really frustrated when he doesn’t do well. … I’m not going to make a big deal out of it.”
Gardenhire got a nice lift from 14-year-old Ryan Lueschen of Lakeville, who served as honorary manager Sunday as part of the Twins’ celebration of the 20th anniversary of the movie “Little Big League.” Gardenhire showed Lueschen, who has a rare heart condition, around the clubhouse and presented him with a jersey.