Suzuki rewarded his manager's trust with a big offensive day -- going 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs against Chen. Nevertheless, the Twins dropped a 5-4 decision to the Royals.
Gardenhire doesn't feel the need to give Suzuki, 30, an abundance of complete days off.
"He's the first guy to walk into the clubhouse and say, 'Game on, I'm good to catch,'" Gardenhire said. "I want the kid [Josmil Pinto] to catch today, but Suzuki can catch a day game after a night game, and you don't have to worry about Suzuki. He comes to play every day."
Suzuki was employed as the DH for the first time since May 15, 2011. The fourth-inning solo homer was his first as a DH.
"It was a changeup," Suzuki said. "I had popped up the same pitch earlier with the bases loaded."
Robert Falkoff is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.