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02/18/11 5:20 PM EST

Twins will limit bullpen sessions for Mauer

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Joe Mauer took batting practice and ran the bases during Friday's first workout for pitchers and catchers, but the Twins were being cautious with the load for their All-Star catcher, who is recovering from offseason surgery on his left knee.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said that Mauer took part in some of the catching drills, but did not catch any bullpen sessions on Friday. The team plans to limit how much wear and tear the catcher puts on his legs in the early going of Spring Training.

"We're not going to push him right now," Gardenhire said. "First we're going to get him going and get his legs underneath him. There is no sense pushing him. ... He wants to be out there and we're going to have him out there. But the thing we can guard against is him sitting back there and squatting all day and catching bullpens."

Mauer underwent minor surgery on his left knee in mid-December to help alleviate some irritation in the joint that had caused him to miss nine games at the end of September last season. Gardenhire said the catcher has still been receiving treatment on his knee, which is the same one that Mauer had surgically repaired back in 2004.

"He has a little bit of soreness in his knee from the surgeries, and he's still working his way back from that," Gardenhire said. "So we'll be a little more guarded with that and take it a little easier with him.

"Once we get going towards the games, we'll mix it up and play him when we think we have to and let him get some swings in, DH, stuff like that."

Gardy has communication plan for Nishioka

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Sitting on manager Ron Gardenhire's desk Friday afternoon was a packet with various Japanese baseball terminology that the skipper recently printed off the internet.

It's all part of Gardenhire's preparation for working with new Japanese infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka this spring.

"I just want to make sure we cover our bases," Gardenhire said. "We've got the interpreter out there that's going to work out really good and help us out. I think it's going to be a lot of fun having a player from Japan. And the language barrier, it's what it is. It's the same thing with a lot of the young Latin players that come over here. There is a language barrier.

"Nishi is going to pick up some English and I'm going to pick up some Japanese, and we're going to have some fun with it."

Gardenhire said he spoke briefly with Nishioka in his office the other day when the infielder stopped by. He also met with Nishioka's interpreter Ryo Shinkawa after the workout on Friday to discuss how they much they will have Shinkawa involved in everything that takes place during camp.

"Honestly, during Spring Training here, I want him around the infield during the drills," Gardenhire said. "I want him there so Nishi can understand everything we're saying and talking about. And I'll sit down with Nishi and go through it. I think it will work out just fine."

Nishioka has been working on the back fields in recent days with his new teammates as they prep for Wednesday's first full squad workout.

Target Field to host Gophers' home games

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Target Field won't just be home to the Twins in 2011. It will also be the host to the University of Minnesota baseball team as well.

The collapse of the Metrodome roof in December knocked the Minnesota baseball team out of its home field this season. So the Twins and the University of Minnesota announced Friday that all of the Gophers' Big Ten home games in 2011 will be played at Target Field.

A total of 12 games for the Gophers will take place at Target Field, starting with the Big Ten opener on April 1 at 1:05 p.m. CT, when they host a doubleheader against Purdue.

"We are extremely thankful to the Minnesota Twins organization for allowing us to use Target Field for our 2011 conference slate," Minnesota head coach John Anderson said in a statement. "From the moment the Metrodome roof collapsed, the Pohlad Family and the entire Twins' organization have bent over backwards to help us make this work. It will obviously be exciting for our team to be able to play 12 games at Target Field, and we feel like it is another great example of the Twins' efforts to go above and beyond to help our program. We feel extremely lucky to have the type of relationship we do with the Minnesota Twins."

Minnesota was originally supposed to play 31 homes games in the Metrodome this season before the roof collapsed.

Ticket information for the 12 games at Target Field will be released by the Twins and the University of Minnesota at a later date.

Twins tidbits

Right-hander Scott Baker threw a side session on Friday morning, and manager Ron Gardenhire said that the pitcher was "full-go" in all the drills on Day 1 of workouts. Baker had a slight setback earlier this month following arthroscopic surgery on his throwing elbow this offseason, but he is feeling better than expected, Gardenhire said. ... Jose Mijares arrived at camp looking a few pounds lighter than he did last season. Mijares pitched winter ball this year, and Gardenhire commented on how good the left-handed reliever looked upon his arrival. "Good for him," Gardenhire said. "That's what we told him when he left. He looks really good." ... First baseman Justin Morneau is expected to arrive in Fort Myers by Tuesday's position player reporting date. Gardenhire said that Morneau, who is recovering from the concussion he suffered last July, has been cleared by doctors to take part in all the drills for Spring Training, but will have to be cleared again by doctors before he can play in games.

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Kelly's Corner and follow her on Twitter at kellythesier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.