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Twins to send Joe Mauer on Triple-A rehab assignment

Minnesota Twins first baseman Joe Mauer (middle) talks with teammates shortstop Eduardo Escobar (left) and second baseman Brian Dozier (right) prior to the game Friday, June 8, against the Los Angeles Angels at Target Field. Harrison Barden / USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS—After having another good day of workouts Sunday, June 10, Minnesota Twins first baseman Joe Mauer will head to Triple-A for a rehab assignment as he works his way back from a neck strain and concussion-like symptoms.

Mauer, who last played in the minors in four rehab games in 2014, will join the Rochester Red Wings, who start a series at Scranton, Pa., on Monday, June 11. The plan is for Mauer to be the designated hitter Tuesday, June 12, and play the field Wednesday, June 13.

If all goes well, Mauer could be activated and join Minnesota for the road trip, which begins with three games in Detroit on Tuesday.

"I'm hopeful," manager Paul Molitor said of the possibility of Mauer's rehab stint lasting just two games. "We haven't checked all the boxes. One of them is including playing a nine-inning game. Probably DH the first game and see if we can get him out there the next day."

Mauer, who has been out since May 18, had another round of running, fielding grounders and taking batting practice before the Twins' 7-5 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday at Target Field. He hurt his neck diving for a ball on May 11 and played for the next few games but ended up complaining of balance issues and sensitivity to light. Mauer's recovery has been slow, and the Twins have been cautious.

"That's why it has been three weeks, because things have cropped up," Molitor said. "We have had to make sure we are paying attention to those things when they do. Trying to figure out what might be triggering them and what we can do better to prevent it going forward. Sometimes it is just time."

Mauer is batting .283 with one home run and 11 runs batted in in 38 games this season.

Buxton runs

Mauer had company in taking simulated swings at the plate and running to first base. Byron Buxton, on the disabled list with a fractured toe, ran before the game and was running with good speed in the outfield.

Buxton, who's been out since May 29, hit off a tee and did some hitting during flip drills Saturday. Molitor said Buxton will travel with the team to Detroit.

"Byron is going to stay with us and continue his work as it's coming along," Molitor said. "Improvement the last couple of days. We're going to take him with us so he can do his work as well as continue advancing his hitting and see how it goes those first couple of days in Detroit."

Dozier day off

Brian Dozier was out of the starting lineup, with Eduardo Escobar playing second base for the first time this season.

Dozier had played in every game this season and started all but two. He's hitting .239 with nine home runs and 26 RBIs.

"Even though you don't like to do it after losing a few games, I think you look for time for him to recharge, so I thought today was a good day," Molitor said.

Part of the challenge for Molitor has been moving Escobar because of the latter's success. Escobar started the season at shortstop with Jorge Polanco suspended before moving to third base when Miguel Sano was injured. Escobar had last played second base on Aug. 2 last season.

"As well as he has played, it is challenging for me that I do have to move him around positionally from time to time," Molitor said. "He kind of likes it, but he is earning a spot in the lineup every day. I don't want to move him around too much. He is doing a really nice job at third base."

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