Mauer plays first base with Cuddyer ailing

Mauer plays first base with Cuddyer ailing

CHICAGO -- Joe Mauer, who served as the Twins' designated hitter in Tuesday night's loss, returned to the field Wednesday for the first time since injuring his neck while lunging for a popup on Aug. 23.

Originally, manager Ron Gardenhire wanted to have Mauer back behind the plate, catching starter Scott Diamond, but he had to start Mauer, who collected hi 500th RBI during the Twins' six-run first inning, at first base instead. Michael Cuddyer, who was hit on the left wrist by a pitch in an Aug. 24 game, said the jarring motion of catching the ball at first was aggravating the injury, so he was moved to right field for Wednesday's contest. With Mauer at first, Drew Butera was catching for the Twins.

"It's a simple thing there. I've got three catchers," Gardenhire said. "So I didn't even ask [Mauer] if he could catch once I found out Cuddy said it would be better if he played [right field]. The only time his hand bothers him, though, is when he's catching throws at first, so we put him in the outfield, and Mauer will play first base."

In fact, Gardenhire's hands were pretty much tied when it came to filling out the lineup on Wednesday. Along with the Cuddyer situation, the Twins were without first baseman Justin Morneau (mild concussion symptoms) and shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka (general soreness). Trevor Plouffe started in place of Nishioka, who had played back-to-back games after missing 10 days with a sore right oblique.

"I had to start looking around for another infielder with Nishi coming in sore," Gardenhire said. "It comes down to very few options here on how to write a lineup out at this point."