"He signed an eight-year deal to catch in the big leagues for the Minnesota Twins," Gardenhire said. "So we're trying to get him back as a catcher. If it doesn't work out when he comes back, then we're going to have to figure somewhere else. And that's a lot harder than everybody makes it out to be, because we have some corner people that are pretty good baseball players.
"He could play anywhere. He played the infield as a young player. We can make him the tallest shortstop since Cal Ripken. Right now, he's a catcher, and that's where he's going to be until Joe says, 'I can't do it anymore,' or we deem him not physically able to do that. But we believe he is. He just needs to get healthy."
There is still no timetable for Mauer's return, but he has been seeing time at designated hitter in extended spring camp and will DH again on Thursday, after he works out and does catching and throwing drills on Wednesday.
"There is no top secret date," Gardenhire said. "There is no specific date to do anything other than day-to-day. Once he gets out there, the player will eventually tell us. We wrote a script on how to get him into position to play; once he starts playing, it's going to be a few innings here, a few innings there and gradually start building up to it."
Infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka, meanwhile, is closer to returning from his broken left fibula and will play seven innings in the field in his next extended game at extended camp.
Left-hander Glen Perkins (strained right oblique) threw from 120 feet and is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Wednesday or Thursday. Right-handers Kevin Slowey (abdominal strain) and Joe Nathan (right flexor muscle strain) have been working out but have yet to throw.