Manager: Joe Mauer feeling 'strong'

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire says Joe Mauer is feeling "real strong" in his rehabilitation for leg weakness, and the team will decide on the catcher's next step after the weekend.

Mauer is set to catch Friday, go through a workout Saturday and then catch again Sunday at Class A Fort Myers. Gardenhire spoke to the All-Star on the phone before Friday's game against the Texas Rangers.

Also, Justin Morneau was not in the lineup Friday because of pain in his left wrist and a pinched nerve in his neck that affects his shoulder. The first baseman told Gardenhire he needed the day off.

Designated hitter Jim Thome was sore after an epidural injection to try to relieve pain in his back that caused a left quadriceps strain. If the injection works, Thome will begin rehab soon.

Injured relievers Joe Nathan and Glen Perkins are also progressing toward a return. Nathan will throw a bullpen session Saturday and then start a rehab assignment in Fort Myers. Perkins is scheduled to throw one inning Saturday night for Triple-A Rochester.

Finally, reliever Anthony Swarzak sustained a mild right calf strain running to the bullpen before Thursday's game. Gardenhire shook his head in disbelief over the injury but said Swarzak will likely be available Friday.