Joe Mauer is getting closer to returning to the Minnesota Twins everyday lineup.
Mauer is in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he'll begin a rehab assignment tonight with the Twins' Class A affiliate Cedar Rapids Kernels tonight.
He hasn't played since suffering a strained oblique after hitting an RBI double against the Royals on July 2. For the season, Mauer is hitting .271 with two home runs and 28 RBIs.
According to ESPN, Mauer could join the Twins during an upcoming road trip to Houston Aug. 11-13.
In an interview with the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Mauer said he'll like be the designated hitter tonight and start playing first base on Wednesday.
"It's been real tough, just not being able to play," Mauer said. "It's been about a month, and it seems like it's been a lot longer than that. The All-Star Game (in Minneapolis), what an event it was. The city was buzzing. I was happy to have it in our home state. I wish I could have been a little more a part of that, but it didn't work out that way. Now I'm just trying to get back on the field again."
Mauer will wear No. 16 rather than his normal No. 7. That number belongs to Kernels player Tanner Vavra, son of Twins assistant coach Joe Vavra. Mauer said he could have taken No. 7 from Vavra but he didn't want to mess up a good thing. The Kernels are 25-18, just a half game out of first place in the second half of the Midwestern League West division standings.
The manager at Cedar Rapids is Jake Mauer, Joe's older brother.
“It’s not business as usual,” Jake Mauer told The Gazette's Jeff Johnson. “He’s my brother, and he’s my little brother. It’s fun having him around. These guys, how they kind of look at him, I don’t think a whole lot of them said a whole lot to him today. Joe wants to get to know them a little bit (because) he’s pretty outgoing. Joe loves to play baseball, whether there’s 50,000 or five people in the stands.”
Jake Mauer said that if Joe feels good enough, he could rejoin the Twins after an off day on Thursday.
The starting pitcher for tonight's Cedar Rapids game will be Ricky Nolasco, as reported by the Star Tribune. He'll be making his first rehab start in nearly a month since suffering an elbow injury.