Escobar close to returning to Twins

Shortstop begins rehab stint; Gibson also on the mend

Escobar close to returning to Twins

MINNEAPOLIS -- Shortstop Eduardo Escobar started his rehab assignment with Class A Advanced Fort Myers on Friday, going 1-for-3 with a triple, and is nearing a return with the Twins.

Escobar, on the 15-day disabled list since May 7 with a right hamstring strain, is eligible to be reinstated Sunday, and is on track to be activated as early as Monday.

"We're going to see how he does on a daily basis, but I don't think it's going to be long," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said. "We'd like to see him get some hits and play a game or two or three and then see where he's at."

Escobar, 27, was hitting .237/.275/.289 with five doubles and six RBIs in 27 games before the injury. Eduardo Nunez has filled in capably, entering Saturday hitting .325/.363/.456 with two homers, seven doubles and 14 RBIs in 32 games.

Ryan said it will be up to manager Paul Molitor how much Escobar and Nunez will split shortstop duty once Escobar returns.

"Nunez has done a nice job here," Ryan said. "I don't think anybody can argue with what he's produced but that will be up to Paul and his staff."

Right-hander Kyle Gibson, on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 23 with a right shoulder strain, also joined Escobar in Fort Myers, and is scheduled to start Sunday. Gibson will make two or three rehab starts before returning to Minnesota's rotation.

Worth noting

• First baseman Joe Mauer was held out of the starting lineup Saturday, marking just the second time he didn't start a game this season in 42 games. Molitor said it was a planned day off with lefty J.A. Happ starting for the Blue Jays.

• Right-hander Alex Meyer, who was optioned to Triple-A Rochester on May 3, hasn't pitched since then after experiencing some shoulder discomfort. But he threw a bullpen session without any issues Friday, and is scheduled to throw another one Sunday. Ryan clarified Meyer will remain a starter at Triple-A despite the shoulder issue.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.