BAL@MIN: Mauer on leaving game with lower back spasms

CLEVELAND -- Joe Mauer was not available to play in Thursday's 9-4 loss to the Indians, but the All-Star first baseman made important progress toward his return.

After the game, Mauer said he swung off a tee Thursday and he felt better.

Mauer believes he will return to the lineup this weekend in Detroit, and Friday's pregame workout will go a long way toward determining when he is back in the lineup.

"Tomorrow, I'm going to get to the park early, give it a real test," Mauer said.

Mauer, who left Sunday's game vs. the Orioles with back spasms, resumed baseball activity Wednesday. Due to mounting injuries to several players, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire worried that the team might be forced to put Mauer on the disabled list to get another healthy body on the roster.

Thursday afternoon, Minnesota optioned Pedro Florimon and Chris Herrmann to Triple-A Rochester. The team will announce corresponding roster moves Friday, one of which is almost certain to be the return of center fielder Aaron Hicks from the seven-day DL.

The roster moves make the possibility of Mauer being placed on the disabled list more remote.

"He's better," Gardenhire said. "We're still looking at the end of this weekend. He believes he'll be able to play by Friday or Saturday, but I think Saturday might be more realistic."

Wednesday's workload didn't overwhelm Mauer, and Gardenhire said his first baseman underwent a similar routine Thursday.

"It went fine," Gardenhire said. "After the game, he was sore from everything he had done, the light swings. But it wasn't like his back's still blown out, just normal soreness from all the rehab stuff he's done. He's going through it again, going to try to do the same stuff."

Florimon, Herrmann optioned to Triple-A Rochester

MIN@CLE: Florimon steals second, advances to third

CLEVELAND -- Pedro Florimon was the only position player Ron Gardenhire had on his bench Thursday morning when he filled out his lineup card, and by the end of the afternoon, Florimon was headed back to the Minors.

After Thursday's 9-4 loss to the Indians, Minnesota announced that it had optioned Florimon and outfielder Chris Herrmann to Triple-A Rochester.

Gardenhire said that corresponding roster moves would be announced Friday. With center fielder Aaron Hicks available to come off the seven-day concussion disabled list Friday, he is certain to be one of the players added, as long as he clears concussion protocol.

"Hicksie's supposedly fine, and if everything is clear and they run that test, he'll probably be one of the guys," Gardenhire said.

The other player, Gardenhire said, would be a "surprise."

Florimon, who started at shortstop on Opening Day, had a surprise of his own Thursday.

"I didn't think it was going to happen, but you had to make some changes," said Florimon, who is batting .108 this season. "I'm not hitting good. I have to go down and get my comfort back and see what happens."

Florimon's defensive prowess is unquestioned, and he has his manager's support. Gardenhire agrees that Florimon's demotion was about one thing only.

"To swing," Gardenhire said of the reason Florimon is headed back to Triple-A. "He can pick it, he can play shortstop with anybody in baseball. He just has to find his swing. He's not hitting up here, and he's got to get some confidence."

Herrmann faces similar challenges. His seventh-inning single was his first hit of the series. He was 1-for-4 with a run, raising his 2014 average to .128 in 15 games.

"He's a good role player, can play a lot of different places, but he's just not confident swinging right now," Gardenhire said.

Fuld's injury leaves Gardenhire with thin bench

Must C Catch: Fuld holds on against the wall

CLEVELAND -- Already down their entire Opening Day outfield and their All-Star first baseman, Minnesota's bench is falling apart in the middle of this seven-game road trip.

Manager Ron Gardenhire had set his lineup Thursday morning, but when he went to the clubhouse, he learned he had to scratch center fielder Sam Fuld.

In the first inning Thursday, the Twins announced that they placed Fuld on the seven-day concussion disabled list, recalling Eduardo Nunez from Triple-A Rochester.

As he made a throw to home plate in Wednesday night's loss to the Indians, Fuld aggravated a headache that began Friday in the series opener against the Orioles. The original injury occurred when Fuld slammed into the wall at Target Field as he caught a laser off Manny Machado's bat.

"It started when he hit the wall in center," Gardenhire said. "[Fuld] never said a word to anybody. He kind of replayed the whole thing -- the throw he made out here where he did the flip got him sore in the neck."

With outfielders Josh Willingham, Oswaldo Arcia, and Aaron Hicks all on the disabled list, Gardenhire had to set a lineup Thursday without his Opening Day starters and one of his top backups in Fuld.

"A ton of outfielders hurt," Gardenhire said. "It just, kind of caught me by surprise. I didn't expect [Fuld's injury], so I'm kind of ad-libbing."

Making the bench even thinner is Chris Colabello's shift to first base in Joe Mauer's absence.

"It's getting thinner," Gardenhire said of his bench.

With Rochester playing about 140 miles south in Columbus, Nunez had a relatively short trip to join the team. Since being optioned after the April 17 doubleheader against Toronto, Nunez is hitting .235 (4-for-17) with three RBIs in five games with Rochester.

When Gardenhire reset the lineup, his bench consisted of shortstop Pedro Florimon and a bunch of empty space. Nunez is expected to be in uniform Friday.

Healthy Guerrier back with Twins after recovery

BAL@MIN: Guerrier notches his first spring strikeout

CLEVELAND -- Matt Guerrier got back to his hometown Wednesday night, and the next morning, he had a locker in the Twins' clubhouse.

By the end of the afternoon, he had logged his first big league inning of the season.

A native of Cleveland, Guerrier has spent the majority of his career with Minnesota. Thursday was the deadline for the Twins to add Guerrier to the big league roster before his opt-out clause triggered, and Minnesota did just that, optioning Logan Darnell to Triple-A to open up a spot on the active roster.

The Angels claimed pitcher Brooks Raley off waivers from the Twins, making room on the 40-man roster for Guerrier.

With the opt-out date looming, Guerrier was pleased Minnesota brought him on.

"This is where I wanted to be," Guerrier said. "I signed here hoping to get a chance to come back."

Guerrier had surgery in August to repair a flexor mass in his right arm. He played parts of 2013 with the Dodgers and Cubs. The Twins signed Guerrier after releasing him at the end of Spring Training, giving him a chance to rehab his arm.

Making seven appearances for Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Rochester, Guerrier allowed four runs in nine innings. He debuted with the Twins in 2004 and pitched with the club through '10.

"The biggest thing is to stay healthy," Guerrier said. "The past two years, I've battled this injury. It's a frustrating thing. You want to stay healthy. At this point, that's the biggest thing."

In building up his strength and shortening his recovery time between appearances, Guerrier has incorporated additional stretching techniques and regular massages.

"I was getting tight because of where the surgery was," Guerrier said. "[Pitching] was making my forearm tight. Trying to figure out what would make it feel the best. I was realizing that when I stretched it out, it would feel better every day."

Guerrier's role in the bullpen has yet to be defined, but Twins manager Ron Gardenhire isn't going to hesitate calling on No. 54.

"It's got to be situational," Gardenhire said. "He's got plenty of experience. He's throwing fine."

Thursday was a long day for the bullpen, and Guerrier wound up getting back on the mound in his hometown as Gardenhire brought him in to pitch the eighth inning. Guerrier allowed a run on two hits during the Twins' 9-4 loss to the Indians.