August 01, 2014

CHICAGO (AP) Minnesota Twins first baseman Joe Mauer and starter Ricky Nolasco are scheduled to begin minor league rehab stints next week.

Assistant general manager Rob Antony said Friday both players will head to Class A Cedar Rapids and could be ready to return to the majors the following week.

''It's all good and fine as long as everything goes well,'' manager Ron Gardenhire said. ''The whole thing could be changed if they have a setback. You just have to hope it keeps moving on the upward, upward here. It looks like it is.''

Antony said Mauer (strained right oblique) will drive to Cedar Rapids on Sunday, work out Monday and start playing Tuesday. He might join the team in Houston, where the Twins play Aug. 11-13. A stop at Triple A also is possible.

Nolasco (sore right elbow) will throw a bullpen session Saturday in Chicago, fly back to Minneapolis with the team on Sunday and work out Monday morning at Target Field before driving to Cedar Rapids.

He will start Tuesday with a 50-pitch limit and, assuming no setbacks, the following Sunday with a 75-pitch cap.

It's been a tough season for both players, with Nolasco's ERA at a career-high 5.90 through 18 starts and Mauer batting .271 with just two homers and 28 RBIs in 76 games.

He was injured swinging on a two-run double against Kansas City on July 1 that stretched his hitting streak to 12 games, and he went on the disabled list the following day. Before that surge, the six-time All-Star and three-time American League batting champion been in his worst slump ever, his average dipping as low as .254 a couple of times in June.

''He's pretty honest with things and lets us know if he's sore or not ready to take that next step,'' Antony said. ''He lets us know and (we) back off on it. That's what you need is good communication. I think he does that well.''

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