The Twins will be closer to full strength by Friday, when designated hitter Jim Thome and reliever Joe Nathan re-join the team in time for a weekend series in Milwaukee.

Thome took five at-bats Wednesday during a simulated game in Fort Myers, Fla. Thome, who has been slowed by back and quadriceps problems and recently received an epidural injection, will meet the team in Milwaukee for the series against the Brewers.

"That's great to have him [to] come off the bench,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Nathan, who landed on the disabled list because of soreness in his surgically repaired elbow, started for Class AAA Rochester against Charlotte on Wednesday, giving up an unearned run on one hit and one walk but recording all three outs on strikeouts.

The strikeouts came against Dayan Viciedo (looking), Dallas McPherson (swinging) and Tyler Flowers (swinging). Nathan, like Thome, will join the Twins on Friday.

Gardenhire wanted Nathan to pitch on back-in-back games before he returned to the team.

"He was on the fast track," Gardenhire said. "He really wanted to be back up here. I wanted him to throw on back-to-back days and see how he does.

"Everything they are telling me is that he's feeling great.''

To make room for Thome and Nathan, the Twins must decide whom to demote. With Thome coming back, they are expected to send down a catcher, either Drew Butera or Rene Rivera. Gardenhire indicated Tuesday that carrying three catchers is a luxury.