Looks like Joe Mauer will be ready to play for the Twins on Friday. He will travel to the Twin Cities on Thursday and play Friday against the Padres. He hit off Joe Nathan today and everything went well.

Mauer hasn't played for the Twins since April 12 because of bilateral leg weakness.....and a viral infection...and a sore/weak shoulder. He's been rehhabing in Fort Myers,  Florida and played a few games for the Class A Miracle.

He told the Associated Press that he's ready to go. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Mauer is ready to catch.

``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, and everything went good.''

Tsuyoshi Nishioka shook teammates' hands and had a big grin on his face as he sat in front of his clubhouse stall.

Nishi is back, having recovered from a broken left fibula suffered on April 7 against the Yankees. He was 4-for-12 in four games with Class A Fort Myers and 4-for-12 in three games with Class AAA Rochester in rehab games,

Ryo Shinkawa, his interpreter, joked that he has now met everyone in the Twins organization. Japanese reporters are back in the clubhouse in force.

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Nishi is here. But Gardy wants to give  him a day to regroup before he starts him in a game. Nishi is available to pinch hit if needed. He has yet to play one inning at Target Field.

Lefthander Dusty Hughes was outrighted to Class AAA Rochester to clear up space on the 40-man roster for Nishioka's return

Joe Nathan tried to get himself activated with Mauer  too, but he will go to Rochester on a rehab assignment first.

``Well, I read a report that he's really close,'' Gardy said, ``but that's to be decided. Our plan is for him to go to Triple-A and pitch to hitters in a game situation and do that two or three times. So I guess there's a discrepancy. I heard that. I read that. So we'll have a conversation with him.'''

(Reporter's note: What the heck is up with the different standards? Nishi and Nathan have to go to Rochester and Mauer doesn't? Who needs it more?)

Jim Thome (back. quad)  took 50 swings and feels very good. Twins are trying to decide if it's worth having him on the bench for road interleague games or not.

Jason Kubel (left foot sprain) is making progress. No timetable on his return.

Denard Span (concussion) told me felt great yesterday, but that was coming off of a day off. Today, he was coming off of a workout day at the park and felt fatigued and felt some of the concussion symptoms.  He's been talking with Justin Morneau and knows he has to take his time. But he's frustrated because he really wants to play.

As for Morneau, he has a cast on his sore wrist and it will be that way for 10 days.

Lefthander Glen Perkins threw 28 pitches on Tuesday and needed a couple days off after that. He's on his way to the Twin Cities and should be activated in time for Friday's game as well.

As for this game, the White Sox have been one of the teams to really exploit Twins pitchers when they don't throw inside enough. If Paul Koberko and Carlos Quentin start pulling outside pitches with authority, it won't be the first time. Pavano has to be committed to pitching Chicago in. Hard.

 White Sox (33-35)

1. Juan Pierre, LF
2. Alexei Ramirez, SS
3. Carlos Quentin, RF
4. Paul Konerko, 1B
5. A.J. Pierzynski, C
6. Alex Rios, CF
7. Adam Dunn, DH
8. Gordon Beckham, 2B
9. Brent Morel, 3B

Pitching: Gavin Floyd, RHP 6-5,3.89

Twins (26-39)

1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Alexi Casilla, SS
3. Michael Cuddyer, RF
4. Delmon Young, DH
5. Luke Hughes, 1B
6. Danny Valencia, 3B
7. Brian Dinkleman, LF
8. Matt Tolbert, 2B
9. Drew Butera, C

Pitching: Carl Pavano, RHP 3-5, 4.54

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