FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Ron Gardenhire said he's fine with Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau playing in the World Baseball Classic, but the Twins' skipper admitted he's nervous because of the risk of injury in the tournament.
Mauer, who is playing for Team USA, and Morneau, who is playing for Team Canada, both played in exhibition games in Arizona on Tuesday to get ready for the Classic. Both teams open up play in Arizona on Friday, with the USA playing Mexico and Canada playing Italy.
Mauer also could see more action at first base than originally expected, as Mark Teixeira withdrew from the tournament with a strained forearm.
Gardenhire said he knows both players are proud to represent their countries, but also said he's just hoping neither one gets hurt.
"It's a nervous time, because some of our best players are there and we want them to come back healthy," Gardenhire said. "They haven't played nine innings yet, so now they're playing nine innings in competitive baseball. It's serious stuff. So I'm worried a little bit here. We have two big pieces of our puzzle playing here along with some other of our guys."
Infielder James Beresford will be the first of 13 Twins players to return from action in the Classic after Team Australia was eliminated by going 0-3 against Chinese Taipei, Korea and the Netherlands in Taiwan. Beresford went 1-for-9 in the three losses.
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.