Joe Mauer is up and running in a bid to restart his 2011 season.
The Twins' catcher put the gear on and caught three innings in an extended spring training game on Thursday. It marked the first time that Mauer had been behind the plate since catching 10 innings against the Royals on April 12.
Forced to go on the disabled list on April 14 because of weakness in his legs and right shoulder, Mauer could tell the difference as he got back to work in a real game.
"It felt good," Mauer said in a teleconference call. "I didn't have a lot of the pain I had been having in a lot of different areas. It was good to get out there and feel like I was able to move and do the things I needed to do to catch."
Mauer, who went 0-for-5 at the plate, is scheduled to get more at-bats as a designated hitter on Friday and catch again on Saturday, contingent on how he feels as the process continues.
Mauer said the ball is coming out of his hand better now and "slowly getting back to where I need to get to." He compares his current regimen with getting back into Spring Training.
In retrospect, Mauer would have liked having more time to get ready this spring.
"But at that point, I thought I was ready to go," Mauer said. "It just didn't work out that way."
Mauer's focus is strictly on his catching duties even as conversation swirls around him regarding whether Mauer should move to another position to help preserve his health.
"People have been talking about that since I was 20 years old," Mauer said.
If there are more physical issues, the talk about Mauer changing positions may intensify.
"But I don't think we're at that point right now," Mauer said.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was pleased that Mauer was able to resume his catching duties Thursday with no ill effects.
"He got three innings in and you go from there," Gardenhire said. "It's a good sign that he's ready to go behind the plate. Blocking balls, full activity as a catcher."