Plouffe progressing, nearing rehab assignment

Twins third baseman has been out since July 2 with fractured left rib

Plouffe progressing, nearing rehab assignment

MINNEAPOLIS -- Third baseman Trevor Plouffe, who has been out since July 2 with a fractured left rib, has progressed to hitting off a tee, fielding ground balls and participating in running drills, and he could head out on a rehab assignment by the end of this week.

Plouffe said the pain in his ribs subsided in the last week, and he started baseball activities on Friday and hasn't had any issues.

"I'm doing well," Plouffe said. "I'm taking ground balls and hitting and all that stuff. So I think it might be a matter of days before I go out on rehab. At least that's what I'm saying. I'm trying to push it. I feel good and don't feel any pain."

Plouffe is scheduled to take live batting practice for the first time on Saturday and believes he'll be ready for a rehab assignment after that. Twins manager Paul Molitor, though, was more conservative and said Plouffe might not head out on a rehab assignment until next week.

"Trevor did well this past week while we were gone, returning to some baseball activities," Molitor said. "The schedule is for him to get some live batting practice by Saturday, and then hopefully, if things are going well, we can get him on rehab by the middle of next week."

The Twins also got positive injury news on catcher Kurt Suzuki, who was able to return to the lineup on Tuesday, despite getting eight stitches on his chin Saturday after taking a foul tip to his facemask. Suzuki has to keep the stitches in for 10 days, but the Twins worked on adding extra padding to his mask to help avoid the chances of reopening the stitches.

"Kurt has proven to be a warrior time and time again when it comes to getting hurt and nicked up," Molitor said. "He seems to take more than his fair share. I didn't know how he'd respond with a gash like that, but we've told by medical people he's good to go and there are no secondary symptoms like headaches or anything."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com 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.