Mauer opts to play first base in finale

Mauer opts to play first base in finale

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire gave Joe Mauer the option of catching or playing first base against the Indians on Wednesday.

Mauer had the choice to start at his natural position behind the plate or play first base for just the fourth time in his career -- but for the third straight day, including the first game of Monday's doubleheader.

"He said, 'First base sounds great,'" Gardenhire said.

So while the decision to play first base seemed like somewhat of a surprise, Gardenhire said that he was perfectly fine with the decision, because the Twins are in the midst of a stretch in which they play 19 games in 18 days coming out of the All-Star break.

Mauer also could see time at first base again on Thursday -- or at designated hitter -- as right-hander Carl Pavano is scheduled to start against the Tigers and has Drew Butera as his personal backstop.

"He's played every game, every inning, so I kinda expected that," Gardenhire said. "The original plan was to catch him today because Pav is out there tomorrow, but I'm kinda happy he's going to play first base today because it's going to be hot. And it gives him a couple days for him to get away from the squatting. We're playing a lot of games in a row here, so we need his bat in there every day and first base is a breather."