In a groove: A big topic of conversation around baseball has been the tremendous start Milwaukee's J.J. Hardy. After the first seven weeks of the season, the shortstop leads the National League in home runs (14) and RBIs (41).But one person who doesn't seem surprised is Joe Mauer. Mauer and Hardy were teammates on a few U.S. teams in their youth, and even then Mauer saw Hardy's potential. "I always knew he had some pop in his bat," Mauer said. "To be leading the National League this year, I don't know if even he thought that would be the case. But he's not just hitting home runs, he's hitting the ball, it seems, wherever he wants. I'm real happy for him. But he's got a lot more things he can do, too." Mauer knows a little bit about the type of stretch that Hardy is going through. After all, Mauer was a model of consistent hitting at the plate last year, when he hit .492 in Interleague Play. "When you're hitting like that, it feels like the game slows down a bit," he said. "The field looks bigger, and it seems like you have a little longer to figure out what you're going to do. It's a great feeling, but you know it's not going to be there the whole time. You just try to ride it out as long as you can." The catcher hopes to have a chance to get back into a similar groove soon. He admits that sitting back and watching his team go through its ups and downs lately hasn't been easy. But for now, he said, he has to be patient as he goes through days of just doing little bits of work. "The leg is doing OK, but it's been a slow process," Mauer said on Sunday, the first day he was eligible to come off the disabled list. "It's still not there yet, but I really feel it's getting close." Twins tidbits: Gardenhire said that he likely will give Justin Morneau and Torii Hunter each a breather from playing the field during the series at Texas. Both will hit in the DH spot, with Cirillo spelling at first base for the first time this year and Ford making his first start of the season in center. ... Luis Castillo has not committed an error since May 29, 2006, a span of 129 games. ... The Twins entered Sunday's game with a 5-8 record in day games this season. ... Outfielder Josh Rabe has been sent on a rehab assigment to Triple-A Rochester. He went on the 15-day DL on May 10 with right shoulder inflammation. Quotable: "This team made a concerted effort to relax a little bit. In the clubhouse Friday, we had a nice little meeting, and then had a players' meeting. Our meeting was about staying positive and rooting for each other, all those things we always talk about around here. Their meeting came out with 'Honoring the Armed Forces' haircuts." -- Gardenhire, on his team's new attitude Down on the farm: Dave Gassner gave up five runs on five hits over four innings in Rochester's 10-4 loss at Norfolk on Saturday. Garrett Jones went 1-for-3 with an RBI. ... Tristan Crawford allowed just one run over 5 2/3 innings and picked up the win as Double-A New Britain defeated Connecticut, 2-1. ... Toby Gardenhire went 2-for-4 with an RBI in Class A Fort Myers' 8-3 victory at Tampa. ... Cole Devries pitched seven scoreless innings in Class A Beloit's 4-1 win over Peoria. Chris Parmelee went 1-for-2 with two RBIs. Coming up: The Twins head to Texas for a three-game series with the Rangers, beginning Monday in a 7:05 p.m. CT start. Right-hander Carlos Silva will face off against Texas right-hander Vicente Padilla.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.