Joe Mauer not ready to return from DL when eligible Thursday

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Joe Mauer is eligible to be activated from the disabled list Thursday, but general manager Bill Smith confirmed today that he won’t be ready to return then.

In fact, there’s no official timetable for Mauer’s return and his status continues to be somewhat mysterious between the initial diagnosis of bilateral leg weakness and a subsequent flu bug that caused him to lose 15 pounds.

Smith told Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune that Mauer is finally over the viral infection and is now working to build his leg strength, with a minor-league rehab assignment likely required before rejoining the Twins’ lineup is a possibility.

Drew Butera and Steve Holm have split catching duties in Mauer’s absence, combining to hit .200 with zero homers in 11 games.

Padres, Mariners join list of teams to extend netting

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The Reds announced earlier that they plan to extend the protective netting at Great American Ball Park in time for Opening Day next season. You can add the Padres and Mariners to what will surely be a growing list.

A young fan was struck in the face by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, which gave new life to the netting debate. Some fans and media types think Major League Baseball is not doing enough to protect fans. While Major League Baseball has issued guidelines for protective netting, it is ultimately up to the teams to decide just how much netting to use.

Zach Britton receives stem cell injection, likely done for the season

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Orioles closer Zach Britton is likely done for the remainder of the 2017 season after receiving a stem cell injection in his left knee, Peter Schmuck and Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun report. Britton has been battling knee problems for most of the season.

The Orioles are still technically in the AL Wild Card race, entering play Thursday 5.5 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card slot. With only nine games remaining, however, the 73-80 Orioles are likely being realistic about their chances and not taking any unnecessary risks with Britton.

Britton, 29, put up a 2.89 ERA with 15 saves and a 29/18 K/BB ratio in 37 1/3 innings this season. He will be eligible for arbitration for the fourth and final time this offseason.