© 2011 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

09/07/11 8:10 PM ET

Mauer, Nishioka ready to assume regular duties

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire expects Joe Mauer to catch at least one game in Detroit this weekend, while Tsuyoshi Nishioka is scheduled to start at shortstop on Friday.

Mauer, who hasn't caught since Aug. 20 after suffering a stiff neck and missing two games with an upper respiratory illness last weekend, started at DH on Wednesday, but is healthy enough to start behind the plate.

"Mauer can catch right now," Gardenhire said. "He already told me. He can catch, DH, do anything we need him to do. Right now, it's just a better fit over there [as DH]. So there's a good possibility he'll catch in Detroit in one or two [games]."

Nishioka, meanwhile, has been plagued by a sore back and oblique and hasn't started at shortstop since Sunday. Twins trainer Rick McWane said Nishioka's soreness isn't expected to go away this season, but that he's going to try to play through the injury.

So it'll be up to Nishioka to tell the training staff if he's ready to go against the Tigers on Friday.

"I think he wants to play," Gardenhire said. "Hopefully, once we get to Detroit and everything feels good, we can put him out there. Unless he feels terrible, he should be playing shortstop in Detroit in the first game, and we'll go from there."

Rehabbing hurlers working to get healthy

MINNEAPOLIS -- Injured Twins starters Brian Duensing, Francisco Liriano and Scott Baker are scheduled to throw off the mound on Thursday, according to Twins trainer Rick McWane.

But Duensing, who left his outing on Saturday against the Angels after just 1 1/3 innings because of a strained right oblique, is the only pitcher who could return as a starter this season.

Liriano, on the disabled list since Aug. 26 with a left shoulder strain, and Baker, on the DL since Aug. 9 with a strained muscle near his elbow, will return as relievers if they pitch at all this year.

"Duensing is probably the only guy who can come back in short enough time to go out there and start," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "But I don't know if we'll do that. It depends on how he feels. But I'm not afraid to use six guys and put Duensing right in there."

McWane said the goal for all three pitchers is to overcome their current injuries by the end of the month, but there's no guarantee Liriano or Baker will return.

"We'd like to see them healthy by the end of the season," McWane said. "It's for their peace of mind and for our peace of mind to go into the offseason healthy. So our goal is to have them have a few appearances and say they're healthy."

Morneau, Span trying to get back in the game

MINNEAPOLIS -- Justin Morneau and Denard Span, who are both out with symptoms stemming from concussions, took batting practice before Wednesday's game against the White Sox and reported no problems, according to Twins trainer Rick McWane.

Morneau, who has been out with concussion symptoms after diving for a ground ball on Aug. 28, is expected to travel with the team to Detroit this weekend. There's still no timetable for when he'll return, but Twins manager Ron Gardenhire is hopeful that Morneau can come back as a designated hitter, as he won't play first base again this year.

"You're talking about a guy who wants to get out there and get some swings in," Gardenhire said. "It hasn't been a lot of fun for him, so I think Justin would like to go into the winter able to get at least a few swings in. He wants to feel good about himself instead of sitting there and wondering how he'll feel when he comes back."

Span, on the disabled list retroactive to Aug. 15 with migraines related to his concussion suffered on June 3, is in a similar situation. It's still unclear if he'll return, but the goal is for him to play in at least a few games.

"That's what we've talked about with Span," Gardenhire said. "It's not about how much he plays. It's about him getting out there and doing a little bit, if that's possible."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.