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8/6/2014 1:29 P.M. ET

Vargas' pop helps him carve out a spot

Impressive rookie has won over Gardenhire with his power potential

MINNEAPOLIS -- He was just called up Thursday, but Kennys Vargas appears to have solidified his spot on the Twins' Major League roster.

"If he goes, I'm going on the plane with him," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I like watching him play so far. We're going to try and keep him. I don't think that'll be a problem."

The 24-year-old rookie notched five hits in a weekend series against the White Sox, and then smacked a game-winning three-run homer against the Padres in Tuesday night's 3-1 victory.

Vargas' sixth-inning shot came on a curveball from San Diego's Jesse Hahn that drifted a bit outside.

"You throw a ball inside or outside, and it doesn't matter," Gardenhire said. "When he gets his arms through right, the ball just takes off like you can't believe."

Vargas skipped Triple-A ball as a result of his callup last week. Gardenhire said while the missed experience at that level means Vargas will have a tougher time getting acclimated to breaking balls at the Major League level, the rookie could have enough power to make up for it.

"He's really strong," Gardenhire said. "[His swing] is not a big long thing. It's pretty quick to the ball. He's just so doggone strong."

Mauer, Nolasco off to good starts in rehab

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins received positive reports on Joe Mauer and Ricky Nolasco, who both started their rehab assignments with Class A Cedar Rapids on Tuesday night.

Mauer, who has been on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right oblique since July 3, went 1-for-3 as the designated hitter in his first rehab game.

Nolasco, on the 15-day DL retroactive to July 7 with a right elbow strain, tossed 3 2/3 scoreless innings, scattering two hits and a walk while striking out two. He threw 51 pitches, 30 going for strikes.

"Everything went well," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Mauer is healthy and got through his at-bats. I guess it was pretty wild down there -- a mania going on.

"And Nolasco did his thing. He felt great and the velocity was good, so it was a good start for him."

Mauer is expected to remain with Cedar Rapids through the weekend, before joining the Twins in Houston on Monday, if all goes well. Nolasco is slated to make one more start with Cedar Rapids on Sunday. He is expected to throw roughly 75 pitches.

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