Mathis on the mend, set for return

Mathis on the mend, set for return

MINNEAPOLIS -- Catcher Jeff Mathis, who tweaked a back muscle on Wednesday when the Angels were wrapping up their homestand against the Indians, is much improved and feels he might be ready to start on Sunday if asked by manager Mike Scioscia.

"I may be in there if it feels good tomorrow," Mathis said prior to Saturday's contest against the Twins at the Metrodome. "It's something I've been dealing with for a long time. The past two weeks or so it's been a little uncomfortable. The back tightened up on Wednesday, but it's feeling a lot better now."

Mathis has been taking a lot of extra batting practice to try to find his stroke. He's far from satisfied with his .193 batting average, but Scioscia values him highly for his ability to call a game and his uncommon athleticism behind the plate.

The Angels are 29-18 when Mathis starts compared to 32-22 with Mike Napoli handling the catching. Napoli has been on fire offensively with five homers in his past 10 games and 13 RBIs in his past 16 starts.

"Jeff has made a lot of progress," Scioscia said, referring to his back ailment. "There's a chance he can play tomorrow. He'll take batting practice, see how it comes out."

Scioscia said neither Torii Hunter (adductor strain) nor Vladimir Guerrero (muscle strain behind his left knee) have reported any setbacks after extensive workouts on Friday. Both are hoping to get back in the lineup in Chicago during a three-game series that starts on Tuesday.

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.