Notes: Mauer glad to be back

Notes: Mauer glad to be back

MINNEAPOLIS -- Joe Mauer had gotten used to the daily questions about his health. He had grown accustomed to the endless inquiries about when he would return to the Twins lineup

But the longer his injury kept him away from playing, the more anxious Mauer seemed to no longer have to answer those questions. And Friday it seemed the catcher was more than ready just to get back to what he knows best -- playing baseball.

"It was frustrating," Mauer said of his time off. "But now I feel good. I'm putting that behind me and moving forward. Hopefully, it continues to stay good, and I can be in the lineup every day."

Mauer got the start at catcher for Friday's game against the Nationals and as expected, he was slotted in the second spot in the order. The change in Mauer's spot in the lineup was something that manager Ron Gardenhire discussed a few days earlier.

The catcher didn't seem concerned at all with moving up a spot in the order, and Gardenhire hopes the change will help steady a lineup spot that's seen its share of troubles so far this season. But there is one thing that Gardenhire said will be different about having Mauer in the No. 2 hole. The catcher will not be given the bunt sign to move runners over.

"Mauer is going to swing," Gardenhire said. "If he bunts, it's on his own. Some people might say it's OK for Joe to bunt him over. In my world, it's not."

The catcher did not record a hit in his two rehab starts. And Mauer admitted that it might take a little bit to get his feel back at the plate.

"It feels a little different hitting right now," Mauer said. "I'm just trying to get the timing back. But the main thing is that my leg feels fine."

Four weeks away from baseball is a long time for any hitter. So it certainly wouldn't be a surprise if it did take Mauer some time to regain the feel at the plate. But one person who isn't too concerned about Mauer is his skipper.

"In normal circumstances you'd stay he's going to need a bit of time here to get adjusted back to this level," Gardenhire said. "But I don't think you're dealing with normal here, at least not normal like we all know it."

And for all the talk leading up to his return that Mauer might need to switch positions due to his health problems, the catcher didn't seem too concerned about that, at least not yet.

"I think I'm pretty young and hopefully I have a lot more years behind the plate," Mauer said. "I love catching, and I'm just glad to be back there tonight."

The crowd at the Metrodome sure felt the same way as huge ovation rose through the ballpark when Mauer's name was announced in the starting lineup.

Rotating DH: The return of Mauer means that Mike Redmond's catching duties will be diminished. But it didn't mean that he was out of the lineup entirely.

Redmond was slotted as the designated hitter on Friday and with three catchers currently on the roster, it could be a frequent occurrence.

Gardenhire said the plan is still to mix in Jeff Cirillo and Jason Tyner at the spot as well. But with the way that Redmond has been swinging the bat recently, hitting .346 over the past month, the skipper didn't want to miss out on the chance to get him in the lineup.

"When you have a chance to get a good bat in the lineup, why not use it?" Gardenhire said.

And for all the concerns Gardenhire expressed about using Mauer as a potential DH, the skipper changed his tune a bit Friday. Gardenhire said as long as Mauer proves healthy enough to play and tells him that he wants to DH, the skipper will be willing to do so. It's something Mauer hopes will have happen as well.

"I would like to be in the lineup every day I can, if that means I need a day off from catching, hopefully I'm a DH," Mauer said. "But if I'm not swinging the bat or Gardy has someone else playing go with, then that's fine. But I want to be in the lineup every day, and that's what I'm working toward."

Unset rotation: The Twins upcoming off-day on Monday has created a bit of a shuffle for the team's starting rotation.

The plan is to keep Johan Santana and Carlos Silva on their regular five-day schedule. That means Silva would start Wednesday's game vs. the Braves and Santana would start Thursday's contest. But how the Twins will adjust the rest of the pitchers is still undecided.

Special honor: Luis Castillo saw his record-setting errorless streak come to an end at 143 games on Wednesday in Anaheim. And on Friday night, the Twins recognized the amazing achievement.

Castillo was presented with a crystal award from Twins general manager Terry Ryan on behalf of the entire organization. The second baseman was also presented with a No. 143 jersey, autographed by the entire '07 Twins team.

His teammates joined him on the field during the ceremony to congratulate the second baseman on his achievement.

Coming up: The Twins will host the Nationals for the second game of the three-game series on Saturday night in a 6:10 p.m. CT start at the Metrodome. Santana will get the start as he faces off against a former Twins farmhand Levale Speigner.

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.