Mauer to catch during extended spring game

Mauer to catch during extended spring game

DETROIT -- Joe Mauer is scheduled to take a significant step forward in his recovery from weakness in his legs and right shoulder on Thursday, as he's scheduled to catch three innings in an extended spring training game in Fort Myers, Fla.

It marks the first time Mauer will get behind the plate in a game setting since catching 10 innings against the Royals on April 12, as he's only served as designated hitter in extended spring training since being placed on the disabled list. He's also expected to get four at-bats on Thursday, and will increase his innings at catcher as he moves forward.

"We'll see how everything goes there," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He'll get some at-bats and catch a ballgame and block some balls -- the whole package. And we'll steadily move forward and get him playing a full nine innings, and we'll go from there."

Gardenhire said there is still no official timetable for Mauer's return, but that he'll need to prove he can catch a full nine innings on a regular basis before he rejoins the Twins.

"He has to be healthy, and that means going about his business like he usually does," Gardenhire said. "Once he's healthy and has played enough games where everything is going along good, then we bring him up here. But it makes no sense to bring him back after a couple days. That's why it's been a long process."

Twins trainer Dave Pruemer added Mauer has been on a regular throwing program and has been catching bullpens to get ready for his first appearance behind the plate.

"He's been doing all his field work down there and he's ready to go," Pruemer said. "So, we'll progress from there."