The injury-plagued Minnesota Twins got a dose of encouraging news Thursday when Joe Mauer, who sat out for 10 days because of tissue inflammation in his left knee, started against the Toronto Blue Jays as the designated hitter. He is expected to be the starting catcher Friday. Shortstop J.J. Hardy, who had missed the previous four games because of a swollen left knee, also started.
Meanwhile, first baseman Justin Morneau took batting and fielding practice as he continues to recover from postconcussion syndrome. He said he hopes to be ready to play if the Twins advance to the American League Championship Series. Morneau has been out since Blue Jays infielder John McDonald inadvertently kneed him in the side of the head as Morneau slid into second base July 7.
Designated hitter Jim Thome probably will return Friday when Mauer moves back behind the plate. Thome missed his eighth start in a row because of a knot in his lower back.
Rangers' Hamilton set to return
Josh Hamilton is scheduled to return to the Texas Rangers' lineup Friday against the Angels. Manager Ron Washington said Hamilton will start and play six innings in either left or center field.