Mauer back in starting lineup at first base

Mauer back in starting lineup at first base

CINCINNATI -- Joe Mauer woke up Saturday morning feeling well enough to play. That was all Twins manager Ron Gardenhire needed to hear before writing Mauer's name into the starting lineup Saturday against Cincinnati at Great American Ball Park.

Mauer was playing first base and batting third in the second game of this three-game series.

Mauer has not played the field since June 17 against Milwaukee when he went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and suffered a bruised right thigh. He pinch-hit in Friday night's 5-4 victory against the Reds, drawing a walk in the decisive two-run sixth inning. Pitcher Liam Hendriks pinch-ran for Mauer.

"I woke up [Saturday] and felt good enough to go. I'm excited about getting back in there," said Mauer before the game. "I think what I did earlier [Friday] helped. I've been available to pinch-hit the four games that I'd been out. I'd just woke up today and it felt like I could get back in there."

Mauer said he still has swelling in the thigh, but he is able to do everything he'll need to do to play in the field. Gardenhire said he could have put Mauer in to catch, but instead opted to give Justin Morneau a day off and keep Ryan Doumit behind the plate. Morneau is hitting just .236 this season and is just 3-for-14 on this current road trip.

"Morny needs a break," said Gardenhire. "He does all the things you're supposed to do as a player, but I can sense he's getting frustrated. He's funny. It's good comments, that Canadian accent, and it comes out pretty good in that dugout. This is a good break for him, a good day to give him a little bit of a break."