Mauer to catch in extended Spring Training (Game 54)

DETROIT — Joe Mauer is scheduled to take a significant step toward 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 a designated hitter in extended Spring Training to this point 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.”

Lineups for the 6:05 p.m. CT start at Comerica Park

Twins (17-36)

1. Denard Span, CF
2. Alexi Casilla, SS
3. Justin Morneau, 1B
4. Michael Cuddyer, 2B
5. Jim Thome, DH
6. Danny Valencia, 3B
7. Delmon Young, LF
8. Jason Repko, RF
9. Drew Butera, C

RHP Scott Baker (2-3, 3.65 ERA. 3.98 FIP, 3.05 K/BB)

Tigers (28-26)

1. Don Kelly, LF
2. Ramon Santiago, 2B
3. Brennan Boesch, RF
4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
5. Victor Martinez, DH
6. Andy Dirks, CF
7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
8. Alex Avila, C
9. Brandon Inge, 3B

RHP Rick Porcello (4-3, 3.93 ERA, 4.13 FIP, 2.13 K/BB)

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