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Notes: Mauer could return vs. Sox

Notes: Mauer could return vs. Sox

MINNEAPOLIS -- With a long list of injuries plaguing the Twins recently, the club has been quite eager to get any one of their missing players back on the field.

And the club might receive its first boost during the upcoming home series with the White Sox. That's because it's likely that catcher Joe Mauer could be back in the lineup for the Twins in one of those three games.

Though no official date has been given for Mauer's return, manager Ron Gardenhire said that there is a strong chance it could come before the team leaves for a six-game road trip on Thursday.

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"Barring no setbacks that's a realistic possibility," Gardenhire said.

Mauer spent Sunday morning completing quite a lengthy workout regimen. He ran in the outfield and caught yet another bullpen session. The catcher even got behind the plate for the first time to make throws to the bases.

"He felt better about it today than he has any other day," Gardenhire said. "He had no problems and he's getting closer with his range of motion and with his running."

One step still remains for Mauer and that's to run the bases. Despite Mauer being a tad exhausted from all the work he completed Sunday morning, the hope is that it could happen as soon as Monday.

Still, when Mauer does return, the Twins are going to approach how they use him with a large amount of caution. Gardenhire has often given Mauer a break from the physical stress put on his body from catching by using him on certain days in the designated hitter spot. But that might not be the case now.

Gardenhire said that the team's training staff informed him that Mauer has had problems staying loose on days when he hits in the DH spot. It's not something they feel attributed to his injury, but it's something that could be a potential problem area upon his return.

"[DH days] are when he seems to have problems," Gardenhire said. "I'm going to really look into those situations and see if that's something I might stay away from. He might catch and not DH as much. We just want to make sure he's OK."

Roster decisions: Mauer's impending return to the lineup also indicates that a roster move is on the way.

Exactly what the club will do to open up a spot for Mauer on the 25-man roster has yet to be determined. But Gardenhire hinted that the way the schedule sets up could likely leave open the option for five bench players.

"With the days off, maybe we can go to 11 pitchers for a few days," Gardenhire said. "At least start out that way to make sure Joe's OK and keep the third catcher here. We haven't made a decision but that's a possibility."

Mauer's spot isn't the only roster decision that the club is pondering. After another rough start by Ramon Ortiz on Saturday, Gardenhire acknowledged that the club could be looking at more changes. For now, though, the Twins haven't decided exactly how to proceed in regards to Ortiz.

"We're going to regroup here for a day and see how things go with our bullpen," Gardenhire said. "Then we'll make decisions."

Rondell update:Twins general manager Terry Ryan spent some time in Fort Myers, Fla., this past week checking up on the status of Rondell White's rehab.

White has been running around without any problems lately, but there still are no plans just yet for a rehab assignment. That means that it still will be some time before White will be back in a Twins uniform.

"We need to get him in a game and I don't think he's quite ready," Gardenhire said. "But he's getting closer definitely."

Minor honor: Kevin Slowey was named the Twins Minor League Player of the Week ending Saturday. The right-hander started two games for Triple-A Rochester and went 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA over 15 innings.

Twins tidbits: The White Sox rotation has changed for the upcoming series due to the club's rain-out on Saturday night. Right-hander Jose Contreras will start Monday's game, John Danks on Tuesday and Jon Garland on Wednesday. ... Gardenhire was named an honorary Admiral in the Minnesota Militia before Sunday's game against the Blue Jays as part of Armed Services Appreciation Day at the Metrodome.

Quotable: "He's hitting .300 and can't really run a lick. He's putting the ball where they aren't. And it just shows he's a pretty good hitter." -- Gardenhire, on backup catcher Mike Redmond filling in during Mauer's absence

Down on the farm: Dave Gassner pitched a complete game shutout in Rochester's 3-0 victory on Saturday night. Gassner allowed just four hits and struck out four. Alexi Casilla went 3-for-4 with an RBI in the victory. ... Matthew Allegra belted a grand slam, but Double-A New Britain lost at Harrisburg, 7-5. Tristan Crawford gave up six runs (one earnerd) over five innings to take the loss. ... Zack Ward allowed just one run over six innings in Class A Fort Myers' 2-1 victory over Daytona.

Coming up: The Twins will open up a three-game series against the White Sox on Monday. It will be a battle of the club's two aces on Memorial Day as Johan Santana and Contreras face off in the 1:10 p.m. CT start.

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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