Mauer pointed toward rehab next week

Mauer pointed toward rehab next week

Twins catcher Joe Mauer ran on Monday and Tuesday without back pain and is expected to begin a rehabilitation assignment next week, according to a report by The Associated Press.

The Twins had said that running would be the final step for Mauer before he can get back on the field and playing. The only time that he has felt pain in his inflamed right sacroiliac joint this spring had been while running.

The plan is for Mauer, who is on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation in his lower back, to continue taking batting practice, running and catching bullpen sessions at the Twins' training facility in Fort Myers, Fla., for the rest of the week. If the progress continues, he will start playing in Gulf Coast League games next week.

Mauer, the American League batting champion last season, made significant strides last week -- taking batting practice on the field with Class A Fort Myers and taking a full session of infield practice. He also continued to catch bullpens and progress in his strength and training regimen.

The Twins have not said publicly the date they are targeting for Mauer's return, but the expectation is that he'll rejoin the team before the end of April. The hope is that Mauer won't need many Minor League games to get his timing down at the plate.

Bobbie Dittmeier is an editor/producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.