UPDATE: Joe Mauer "real close" to returning to action

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mauer smiling.jpgUPDATE: We won’t be seeing Mauer tonight. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire tells Christensen that the Twins will see “where he’s at tomorrow or even Tuesday.”

“He’s anxious. He really wants to play, but he also knows his foot’s not
quite there yet. … We don’t want him to bang it, or he could be out a
long, long time.”

5:17 PM: Christensen writes that he hasn’t seen a lineup for Saturday’s nightcap against the Orioles, but that Drew Butera will be catching.

4:29 PM: According to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Joe Mauer took batting practice and ran the bases before Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told Joe Kieser of MLB.com that Mauer is “real close” to returning to action.

“[Mauer’s] doing a lot better,” Gardenhire said. “He’s been running
around, and he ran on the track. We’ll see how he feels before making a
decision.”

Mauer hasn’t played since April 30 due to a bruised left heel. Gardenhire hasn’t ruled out using him as a pinch-hitter this weekend, but tells Kieser’s that Monday’s scheduled off-day could prove beneficial.

“The off-day is huge,” Gardenhire said. “I know Joe’s getting a little
anxious to get out there, but we’ll just have to see.”

Including the first game of Saturday’s double-dip, rookie Wilson Ramos has started six straight games behind the plate. Entering Saturday’s action, the 22-year-old is 8-for-20 (.400) with one RBI, though he has cooled down considerably of late. 

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.

Orioles acquire Alec Asher from the Phillies

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The Phillies announced on Tuesday that the club traded pitcher Alec Asher to the Orioles for a player to be named later.

Asher, 25, was the victim of a roster crunch. He was not going to make the 25-man roster and the starting rotation at Triple-A Lehigh Valley was already full. The Phillies acquired him from the Rangers in the July 2015 Cole Hamels trade.

Asher had good results in 27 2/3 innings in the big leagues last year, posting a 2.28 ERA with a 13/4 K/BB ratio. While it didn’t show in those stats, the right-hander sometimes struggles with command and he doesn’t miss bats often enough to make up for it. The Orioles, however, are happy to add some pitching depth.