Twins could activate Joe Mauer from disabled list Thursday

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Some things are finally starting to go right for the Twins. They’ve won eight of their last 10 games and even managed a decisive 8-1 victory over the AL West-leading Rangers on Saturday at Target Field.

They’re also starting to get healthier.

From John Shipley of the St. Paul Pioneer Press comes word that catcher Joe Mauer has not been scheduled to play in any rehab games at Triple-A Rochester and could jump from Single-A Fort Myers to the Twin Cities on Thursday of this week.

Mauer will catch a full nine innings today and Monday for the Fort Myers Miracle before batting against rehabbing closer Joe Nathan in a simulated game on Wednesday. If that all goes well and Mauer feels strong enough, he could be activated in time for the Twins’ Thursday afternoon game against the White Sox.

Mauer was 8-for-34 with no homers and four RBI before landing on the disabled list in the middle of April with bilateral leg weakness. He’s not going to save Minnesota’s season all on his own, but he’ll certainly improve the club’s chances of pulling off a major comeback. Manager Ron Gardenhire said Sunday that he hasn’t decided whether Drew Butera or Rene Rivera will be sent back to the minors to clear a 25-man roster spot.

Steven Matz to skip next spring training start with elbow issues

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Mets’ left-hander Steven Matz will miss his Grapefruit League appearance on Monday after experiencing soreness in his left elbow, according to a report by Mike Puma of the New York Post. Matz reportedly first felt discomfort in his elbow on Wednesday after pitching four innings against the Marlins, but a medical evaluation revealed no structural damage.

Still, it’s unsettling news for the 25-year-old, who is coming off of an injury-riddled 2016 season. Matz pitched to a 3.40 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 8.8 SO/9 during his sophomore campaign with the Mets, but his success was hampered by a bevy of shoulder and elbow issues that culminated in season-ending surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow.

Comments from Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson indicated that while the club doesn’t believe anything is significantly wrong with Matz’s elbow this time around, the setback could have an impact on his chances of cracking the Opening Day roster. Until he’s cleared to return to the mound, the club is expected to take a longer look at rotation candidates Robert Gsellman, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo.

Video: Andrew Toles hammers grand slam in Cactus League win

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Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.

Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).

Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.