ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Just as manager Ron Gardenhire hinted that they might during Sunday's pregame, the Twins recalled Jim Hoey from Triple-A Rochester following Minnesota's 4-2 win over Tampa Bay.
The move was made in order to give Twins veteran Joe Nathan a little breathing room as he battles consistency issues on his path back from Tommy John surgery. Nathan announced on Sunday morning that he had discussed with Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson a temporary leave from the closer's role. He instead will pitch in less pressured situations while getting the zip back on his pitches.
Hoey, who worked to a 1-0 record and 2.70 ERA with eight strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings for the Red Wings this season, will likely work primarily eighth innings, and newly-anointed closer Matt Capps the ninth, in order to free up Nathan to work earlier on.
"I just don't have that last bit of life on [my pitches]," Nathan said. "It'll show signs of life and definitely be there at times, which is promising. That lets me know that it is coming back. With this process, it's now about pitching with strategy."
Hoey, his temporary replacement, impressed Twins' staff in Spring Training enough that coaches approached Minnesota newcomer and catcher Steve Holm about what he saw when catching for the righty.
The report was shining, and Hoey is on his way to meet the team in Baltimore, where the Twins open a four-game series with the Orioles on Monday night.
"We need a power arm, and I think we all saw that toward the end [today]," Gardenhire said. "Hoey's been powering it in there. We know he throws the ball mid-90s, and we're going to give him a shot."
To make room on the roster, Minnesota optioned Jeff Manship to Triple-A. The optioned righty had an 8.10 ERA over 3 1/3 innings (five appearances) with the Twins this season.
Mauer visits teammates prior to game
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Joe Mauer rejoined the team around two hours prior to Sunday's day game against the Rays. The fact that the viral infection he harbored returned him paler and thinner than when he left Friday night didn't bother his Twins teammates, many of whom wandered over to hug their catcher.
Mauer was clearly still under the weather and 12 pounds lighter after fighting flu-like symptoms, but he mustered up a "feeling better" comment and smile anyway for Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire, who visited with his All-Star briefly before Mauer headed for the trainer's room.
"I think he's lost 15 or 20 pounds," Gardenhire said. "He's sick."
Mauer echoed as much shortly after Minnesota's 4-2 win over Tampa Bay.
The 27-year-old also clarified the ordeal he has undergone this weekend, which included no appetite and not leaving his St. Petersburg hotel room.
"I'm still not feeling very good," he said. "I've been doing a lot better in the last couple of days though. You're just beat up, like you normally are when you have any type of flu. It's been beating up on me the last couple of days."
Mauer didn't seem to think the weakness in his body that forced him to the 15-day DL on Thursday was related to his viral infection, but instead to an issue that dated back to Spring Training.
"I thought I had built up enough strength in my legs to get to the season, and once the games started playing I thought I'd get stronger and stronger," said Mauer, who had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in December. "It just went the other way.
"Obviously, with your one leg not strong it affects other things. I thought we were at a certain point; I was hoping things would go the other direction, and it went the other way, so I've got to take some time off and get healthy."
The 2009 AL MVP is still on track to join the team on its flight to Baltimore, visit with a doctor there and return to Minnesota on Monday to begin his rehabilitation. His disablement is retroactive to April 13.
While Mauer's presence strengthened the clubhouse spirit, the absence of cleanup hitter Justin Morneau weakened the lineup. Morneau was laid up in the trainer's room all morning with the flu -- an illness not related to, or able to be contracted from, Mauer's viral infection -- which forced Gardenhire to replace him on Sunday.
Michael Cuddyer manned first base in Morneau's absence, while Jim Thome filled the designated hitter slot. The illness is not serious, and Morneau is expected to return to the lineup during the Twins' four-game series in Baltimore, which opens Monday.
Dawn Klemish is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.