That's the message Twins manager Ron Gardenhire had for those wondering why catcher Joe Mauer wasn't in the starting lineup for Wednesday's game against the Orioles. The skipper just wanted to give Mauer a quick breather.
"Last night was a long one, the last two [innings] with a knuckleballer," Gardenhire said before Wednesday's contest. "I said, 'OK, it's a break.' Take an opportunity when you can when it's early to give him a break for his legs."
Mauer was out from April 2 until Thursday with inflammation of the sacroiliac joint. He hit .400 on a five-game rehab assignment with Class A Ft. Myers and didn't miss a beat when returning to the Twins.
Mauer has a .412 average in his first five games. He's 7-for-17 with one homer, three RBIs and a .706 slugging percentage. But Gardenhire felt it was time for Mauer to sit one out.
"I think his back is fine," Gardenhire said. "You know, you miss his bat when he's not in there, but catchers need this break."
Mike Redmond was in the lineup at catcher, batting eighth.
Gardenhire also didn't want to say how close Mauer is to being completely healthy. He just likes how his catcher is playing so far.
"It's hard to put percentages on people," Gardenhire said. "He's handling himself well. He's moving well behind the plate. His bat, the first couple of days [benefited from] adrenaline and the rush of being back in the big leagues."
The only other Twins injury news was that third baseman Joe Crede, originally in the lineup for this game, was pulled due to a stomach bug. Brendan Harris moved from shortstop to third base, and Nick Punto went in at shortstop.
Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.