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08/15/08 8:58 PM ET

Casilla's thumb healing nicely

Infielder has splint taken off right hand, begins hitting

MINNEAPOLIS -- Alexi Casilla walked by Ron Gardenhire's office prior to batting practice on Friday flashing an emphatic sign of irony.

"He game me the thumbs-up today," Gardenhire said, laughing.

The second baseman, currently on the 15-day disabled list with a torn ligament in his right thumb, took ground balls and threw prior to the Twins' game against Seattle. Casilla said he experienced no pain during the drills. He had a splint removed from the thumb on Wednesday.

Casilla later hit off a tee from both sides of the plate. He said that he can bat 100 percent from the right side, but is closer to 85 percent when hitting left-handed.

"Hitting lefty, I was feeling a little pain," Casilla said.

He explained the difference when hitting lefty: "My left hand is on the top of my right hand. When I swing, it's pulling my thumb, that's why it hurts."

Casilla said that he expects that pain to subside as the season continues.

Casilla will hit soft toss on Saturday and said he might take live batting practice on Monday.

An exact plan has not been hatched, but it is possible that Casilla will go on a Minor League rehabilitation assignment at the beginning of next week.

"I'd like to see him maybe play a couple of ballgames somewhere and see how he gets through them and maybe join us on the next trip -- that's kind of my hope," Gardenhire said.

The Twins begin a 14-game road trip on Aug. 21 against Anaheim. The club will play four games against the Angels, three against the Mariners, four against the A's, and three against the Blue Jays before returning to the Metrodome.

"I think I'm going on the road," Casilla said. "I'm feeling very good."

Gardenhire is eagerly awaiting Casilla's return. The second baseman was placed on the DL on July 29. Prior to the injury Casilla was hitting .313 with four home runs and 39 RBIs in 243 at-bats.

"He was doing just about everything you can ask -- getting on base, seeing pitches, playing the heck out of second base," Gardenhire said. "To have another speed guy, a solid defender, all of those things you'd like to get back -- very important."

Thor Nystrom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.