Duensing remains hopeful for weekend return vs. White Sox

Lefty reliever eligible to come off DL on Saturday

Duensing remains hopeful for weekend return vs. White Sox

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins left-hander Brian Duensing said he remains hopeful he'll be ready to be activated from the 15-day disabled list as soon as he's eligible on Saturday against the White Sox.

Duensing, on the DL with a right intercostal strain, threw a bullpen session of 30 pitches with no issues on Monday and participated in pitcher's fielding practice before Tuesday's game. He'll face hitters in a 30-pitch simulated game on Thursday, and if all goes to plan, he could return on Saturday without a rehab assignment.

"As long as everything goes well the next couple days, I don't think I will," Duensing said about going on a rehab assignment. "It's going to be a good test. I've done some mound work, but with the hitters I'll crank it up a little bit and see how it goes."

The DL stint is the first one of Duensing's seven-year career, so last week marked the first road trip he'd ever missed in his time in the big leagues. He said it was weird watching his teammates play on television, and said he's looking forward to rejoining the team soon.

"I watched the games on TV but sometimes I had to change it because I couldn't take it," Duensing said with a laugh. "I'm ready to come off this thing. It's something I could've technically pitched with, but we didn't want it to keep nagging. We thought it was better to take 15 days than have it linger for five months or overcompensate for it and hurt something else."

• Right-hander Trevor May, who was hit near his elbow on a comebacker on Saturday, has been cleared to start on Thursday against the White Sox, Twins manager Paul Molitor said. Fellow right-hander Kyle Gibson will start Friday, but the Twins aren't ready to announce their starters for the rest of the weekend. There's a chance right-hander Ricky Nolasco could be activated from the 15-day DL, as the Twins are still deciding whether he'll need another rehab start after his 67-pitch outing on Sunday for Class A Cedar Rapids.

"There's no need to announce anything if we're not sure how it's going to play out," Molitor said.

• Second baseman Brian Dozier was given his first day off of the season on Tuesday. He played in a career-high 156 games last year, so it's rare for him to be held out of the lineup.

Dozier's leadoff double

"The reality was he was probably a little bit worn down mentally and physically by the end of last year between having a tough season as a club and a lot of at-bats," Molitor said. "So there's going to be a time now and then where we have a long stretch of games and a certain matchup to give him an opportunity."

• Designated hitter Kennys Vargas was held out of the lineup for a second straight game Tuesday, as the Twins are working with him on his mechanics to help him get out of his early slump. It's also time to allow him to clear his head. He'll return to the lineup on Wednesday at DH, Molitor said.

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.