Joe Mauer on track to return to Twins early next week

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Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger on Tuesday that first baseman Joe Mauer is likely to rejoin the club early next week in Houston after playing in rehab games through the weekend with the Low-A Cedar Rapids Kernels.

Mauer has been on the disabled list since July 2 with a strained oblique. He’ll be looking to finish the 2014 season on a positive note after batting .271/.342/.353 with two homers and 28 RBI over his first 76 games.

Mauer is owed $23 million per year through 2018.

According to FanGraphs’ free agent values, the 31-year-old has been worth $2.8 million this year.

Joe Kelly’s suspension reduced to 5 games on appeal

Joe Kelly suspended eight
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LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly had his suspension for throwing pitches near the heads of Houston hitters reduced to five games on appeal.

Kelly was originally penalized eight games by Major League Baseball on July 29, a day after throwing a 96 mph fastball near the head of Houston’s Alex Bregman and two curveballs that brushed back Carlos Correa.

The Dodgers on Wednesday confirmed the reduced penalty.

Kelly went on the 10-day injured list retroactive to last Sunday with right shoulder inflammation. He will serve his suspension when he returns.

After striking out Corea, Kelly curled his lip into a pouting expression and exchanged words with the shortstop.

Benches cleared after Kelly’s actions during the sixth inning of Los Angeles’ 5-2 win at Houston in the teams’ first meeting since it was revealed the Astros stole signs en route to a 2017 World Series title over the Dodgers.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts served his one-game suspension the same day the penalty was handed down. Astros manager Dusty Baker was fined an undisclosed amount.

Kelly denied that he purposely threw at the Astros. He has previously been suspended in his career for throwing at a batter.

The penalties were imposed by former pitcher Chris Young, MLB’s senior vice president of baseball operations, who issued his first ruling since taking over the job from Joe Torre.