7/19/2014 7:22 P.M. ET
Scuffling Willingham still a possible trade chip
By Alex M. Smith / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- As the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, Rays starter David Price is one of the most prominent chips on the market.
The Twins don't have any Major League assets in the same class as Price, but there are a few players who could be on the move before the month is over. One of them -- 35-year-old veteran Josh Willingham -- was left out of the lineup against Tampa's ace on Saturday night.
"Willy's fine," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's healthy. He's just missing his pitch right now. He had a good one to hit last night and popped it up. The bat head was in the right spot, he just got the bottom half of it."
Willingham went 0-for-3 on Friday night, and has hit just .118 in his past 27 games. Those numbers don't make him a very tantalizing trade option, but suitors will likely be expecting the numbers Willingham posted in his first 17 games after returning from the DL on May 26 (.316, five homers, 17 RBIs).
If the Twins are "sellers" at the deadline, they'll need their slugger to flash those kinds of numbers in the next couple weeks.
"We'll just keep mixing it up and see if we can get him going," Gardenhire said.
Mauer takes grounders, no timetable for return
MINNEAPOLIS -- Joe Mauer was back on the field Saturday afternoon, but in a limited capacity.
The injured first baseman (strained right oblique) took some grounders on his knees before Saturday's game against Tampa Bay. He's been out since the Twins placed him on the disabled list on July 2.
"I'm sure it's going to be very light," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He just wanted to get on his feet and move around today."
Gardenhire said that Mauer is not yet ready to swing the bat.
"I talked to him yesterday before the game," Gardenhire said. "He said there's certain things he does right now -- coughing and sneezing and stuff like that -- where he definitely feels it. So he's obviously not ready to take swings or any of that stuff. But he's taking a few ground balls."
Mauer's injury came at a particularly unfortunate time. Trying to make a last-second All-Star push, the veteran was batting .362 during a 12-game hitting streak that pushed his career-low .258 average to a more respectable .271.
There is currently no official timetable for his return.