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08/06/10 7:10 PM ET

Hudson slated to return on Sunday

CLEVELAND -- Orlando Hudson's stay on the 15-day disabled list will conclude on Sunday, the first day the Twins second baseman is eligible to be activated.

The switch-hitting Hudson, who has not played since July 23 because of a right oblique strain, took batting practice left-handed prior to Friday's series opener against the Indians at Progressive Field.

Hudson had already been taking BP from the right side.

"He was fine," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He swung good left-handed and right-handed, so we'll activate him Sunday."

Morneau inching toward regular workouts

CLEVELAND -- When the Twins travel to Chicago next week for a pivotal three-game series against the White Sox, Justin Morneau could join them -- for pregame workouts, that is.

Morneau, continuing to recover from the concussion he sustained in Toronto on July 7, worked out at Target Field again on Friday. Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said the All-Star first baseman is tentatively scheduled to accompany the Twins in Chicago, where Morneau would participate in regular team workouts Tuesday and Wednesday before potentially beginning a Minor League rehabilitation assignment.

Of course, that plan hinges on Morneau's progress this weekend.

"It's all going to depend on him," Gardenhire said. "I think he's champing at the bit. He thinks he's ready to go on a rehab right now, but we'd still like to see him get into the thick of a full workout with us, to go through a whole nightly routine and see what happens."

Morneau's Target Field workouts have included hitting, running and playing catch.

"I think he's doing just about everything he can," Gardenhire said. "He goes in in the morning, does his workout for 2-3 hours at the ballpark and he's fine. Now, we want to find out if he can go through a full day: early BP, regular BP, running around and taking groundballs, running the bases, hitting with the boys and watching the game at night time.

"We want to see how he handles that. If he does it for two days, then we'll see if he can play."

The return of Morneau, batting .345 with 18 home runs and 56 RBIs through 81 games this season, cannot come soon enough for Gardenhire, who must exercise patience while awaiting his slugger's return.

"Our hopes are high," Gardenhire said. "We were hoping he would get over this hump and say, 'Let's go.' It sounds to me like he's there now. We're trying to calm him down and go through the right process. That's what we've been waiting for from the get-go: for him to be gung-ho."

Mauer getting break from catching duties

CLEVELAND -- Friday was supposed to be the day Joe Mauer started behind the plate for the first time since July 31.

That plan changed after Twins manager Ron Gardenhire opted to spare his All-Star backstop, battling right shoulder soreness, from catching duties until at least Sunday.

"He threw again [Friday], better than [Thursday]," Gardenhire said of Mauer, who served as the designated hitter in Friday's series opener against the Indians at Progressive Field. "With today, and then tomorrow with Drew [Butera] catching [Carl Pavano] anyway, he'll have two more days. We'll see where he's at Sunday.

"If he catches Sunday, then he'll have the off-day Monday and get back at it [Tuesday]. We'll see how he does after that. That's the plan. The original plan was he catches [Friday], then takes [Saturday] off catching, then catches Sunday and has [Monday] off. He wasn't quite ready, so we'll give him a couple days here to DH and go from there. We still have a long ways to go in the season."

Could Mauer's injury be considered a blessing in disguise?

"For his legs and everything else, sure," Gardenhire said. "There's a positive to look at, too. It's taken a load off his legs, so he should be fresher down the stretch."

Conversely, Jim Thome has started one game this month.

"I'm missing opportunities with Thome," Gardenhire said. "I'd like to see him get some swings. For one positive that comes out of something, it becomes a negative, too. I can't get Jim Thome as many at-bats as I would like. But Joe is our starting catcher, so we'd like to have him in there."

Rauch ready to go against Tribe

CLEVELAND -- The hand blisters that kept Jon Rauch out of action on Wednesday and Thursday improved enough for Twins manager Ron Gardenhire to deem his reliever available for Friday's series opener against the Indians at Progressive Field.

Rauch, suffering from hand, foot and mouth disease, had struggled to grip a baseball because of the condition.

"He should be good to go," Gardenhire said. "His hands are feeling a lot better. His feet are still bothering him, but he's supposed to be ready to go."

Gardenhire expressed a desire not to use Matt Capps, who succeeded Rauch as closer after being acquired from the Nationals last week, in Friday's contest. Capps pitched in the final three games of the Twins' road series with the Rays, which concluded Thursday.

"Let's go offense," Gardenhire said.

John Barone is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.