JUPITER, Fla. -- Scott Baker's inflamed right elbow was causing some concern in Twins camp, but some of that was alleviated on Saturday.
One day after cancelling a bullpen session in favor of long toss, Baker threw a bullpen session in Fort Myers, Fla., without incident.
"He threw real good," pitching coach Rick Anderson said. "Everything went perfect, and he'll throw another 'pen on Monday."
If all goes well in Baker's next bullpen session, Anderson anticipates that the hurler could return to Grapefruit League action next week.
"The soonest it would probably be is Thursday," Anderson said. "He threw a 'pen today at 80 percent. I want him to get out there on Monday again, and then we can think about throwing in games. But if he thinks he needs another one, I'll go with him and the trainers and figure it out from there."
Even if the Twins choose to be cautious with Baker, Anderson is excited about what Saturday's bullpen session means for Minnesota's starting rotation.
"It's awesome," Anderson said of Baker's return to the mound. "We're excited that there was no pain and no problems. Just a little bit of tendinitis and they jumped on it and the trainers did a good job with it. Now we're excited to move forward."
Gardenhire away after loss of family member
JUPITER, Fla. -- The Twins played two games on Friday and another on Saturday without manager Ron Gardenhire.
Gardenhire is away from the team while mourning the loss of a family member. He will miss Sunday's game against the Pirates, and is scheduled to return on Monday when the Twins face the Red Sox.
"Everybody talks about the tough day we had yesterday with the two games, but what he's doing is tougher than that," bench coach Scott Ullger said. "Losing somebody is tough."
Ullger is running Twins camp while Gardenhire is away. Gardenhire's right-hand man has not been in contact with the Twins' manager. He wants Gardenhire to focus on his family now and worry about the team when he returns to camp.
"He's got three days to himself," Ullger said. "Those things are more important and he's got to take care of that. We all think about him, but we're giving him his three days so he can do his thing."
Nishioka continues to adjust to American game
JUPITER, Fla. -- A year has passed since he came to the Majors from Japan, but Tsuyoshi Nishioka is still adjusting.
The Twins hope Nishioka will be able to improve from a disappointing rookie season in which he hit just .226 over 68 games. Bench coach Scott Ullger believes Nishioka will make strides at the plate, but feels he still has work to do with his overall game.
"Offensively, I think he looks a little stronger," Ullger said. "Defensively, he's still out of position a lot and still making some of the mistakes that he made last year, like taking throws in front of the base and lining up to the wrong base. Yesterday, he just took off running when he didn't have the green light. But offensively, he looks better to me. He's got more from both sides."
Nishioka is still getting used to the American way of playing baseball. While he was very successful in Japan, the Twins believe he will need to adapt to find success in the Major Leagues.
"Maybe it's done differently over in Japan, but he needs to make the adjustment to the way things are done over here if he wants to be successful," Ullger said. "You can't keep making those little mental mistakes. The other day he had a backhand play and he went around it, and it went off the side of his glove. Just backhand the ball. That's why we work on it for 30 or 40 minutes a day."
Ullger says Nishioka is "learning and trying" to make adjustments to his game. But the Twins' bench coach still feels the 27-year-old has a lot to learn about how to play in the big leagues.
Span glad to move on from last season
JUPITER, Fla. -- Last season was one that Denard Span would like to forget.
The 28-year-old dealt with swirling trade rumors and played in a career-low 70 games due to a concussion. But Span enters the 2012 season healthy and focused on being the Twins' starting center fielder. That is just the way he likes it.
"I'm definitely glad that is out of the way," Span said of the 2011 season. "Last year, going through my concussion and then hearing the trade rumors, there's no question that did bother me. So far, it's been good to come into spring with the rumors and the whole season behind me. Looking forward to this season has definitely been great."
While Span is entering just his fifth big league season, he is expected to be the leader of a young but talented Twins outfield.
"There's definitely a different feeling coming into Spring Training," Span said. "This is the first year where I have been looked upon as that guy. So far, I've been embracing it and trying to set a good example for some of the younger guys."
Span is doing his best to be a good example for talented young players like Ben Revere and Rene Tosoni. While some will tell the younger players what they need to do to succeed, Span would prefer to show them.
"Just lead by example," Span said. "If they have questions, I try to answer them as best as possible. I'm a firm believer of leading by example. There are vocal leaders, and I can do that if needed, but I prefer to be a guy that shows his actions first and then speaks second."
Similar to his style as a leader, Span believes the Twins need to show people that they can be a good team rather than tell them.
"You're only as good as your last game, and after our last game, we sat at 99 losses. It is what it is," Span said. "We've been on the other side where we had a good year the year before and we were picked to win the division. Now we're on the flipside of that. We don't need to worry about what everybody else says. We just need to come together and try to turn things around."
David Villavicencio is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.