Twins' Mauer 'real close' to returning
Minnesota star Joe Mauer's deeply bruised left heel is feeling much better, but he was unavailable for Saturday's split doubleheader at Target Field.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said before the first game against Baltimore that Mauer is "getting real close'' to returning to the lineup, but Gardenhire ruled the AL MVP out for the second game because he is still not ready to run the bases at full speed.
"You can't just stick a guy out there because he's got some orthotics in his shoes,'' Gardenhire said. "He feels a lot better with those in there, but his foot's not well. He's definitely not totally healed. He's still got some soreness in there.''
Mauer took batting practice before the first game and was testing his foot by squatting in the catcher's position in the batting cage during the game. Mauer did some running on a track at Target Field on Friday, when the game was postponed by rain.
He hasn't played since hurting his foot while running out a grounder on April 30.
Gardenhire said Mauer would be evaluated Sunday for possible action against the Orioles. The Twins are off Monday and host the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday.
"He's anxious. He really wants to play. He wants to be out there,'' the manager said. "But he also knows his foot's not there yet.''
Shortstop J.J. Hardy won't play this weekend. His left wrist is still sore, and Gardenhire said he's not ready to get on the field.