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.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.