Mauer on track to come off DL on Saturday

Mauer on track to come off DL on Saturday

HOUSTON -- After the Twins used the All-Star break as a vehicle to give first baseman Joe Mauer extra rest and have him miss minimal games, their plan to activate him from the disabled list on Saturday hasn't deviated course.

Mauer fielded ground balls and went through an assortment of drills prior to taking batting practice shortly before Friday's series opener vs. Houston. If he responds well after swinging a bat for the first time since hitting the DL, he's expected to return on Saturday.

"That's the hope," Mauer said. "I've got to go through today and see how that goes. But yeah, that's the goal."

"He's had a good day so far," manager Paul Molitor added. "I think that reports coming into town were that he had a good break in terms of returning to good health. So far I've seen nothing that has dispelled that.

"I'd be surprised if he's not ready to be active tomorrow. So we'll see how the rest of the day goes and see how he responds to a fairly extensive workout."

After injuring himself on July 4 against the Angels, Mauer went on the 10-day disabled list with a strained lower back on July 7, retroactive to July 5, making Saturday the first possible day for his return.

This stint on the DL is Mauer's first since August 2014. Friday's series opener at Minute Maid Park is expected to be the only game he misses after the All-Star break.

Since June 1, Mauer is batting .287 with 33 hits in his last 31 games and he has hit .286 in 74 games this season. Minnesota is 19-20 since June 1 and is hitting .255 as a team in 39 games.

Christian Boutwell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Houston and covered the Twins on Friday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.