Mauer likely to play first tomorrow (Game 85 vs. Rays)

MINNEAPOLIS — Catcher Joe Mauer was held out of the lineup today against the Rays after taking a foul tip to his shoulder, but is expected to return to action tomorrow in Chicago and will likely play first base for the first time in his big league career.

Mauer, who has been taking ground balls at first base during batting practice since June 27, hasn’t played first base since playing one game there with Class A Fort Myers in 2003.

“Joe Mauer will probably play first base with Jim Thome at DH and Drew Butera catching,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Joe’s not going to play today. He’s a little beat up, which is understandable. I saw his swing last night and looked a little sore. That’s going to be expected.”

Mauer is being called to action at first with Justin Morneau out until at least mid-August after undergoing surgery to remove a herniated disk fragment from his neck last week. It will be a change of pace for Mauer, who last saw extended time at first when he played 13 games there with Class A Quad Cities in 2002.

“He’s fine,” Gardenhire said. “But you won’t really know until you get him into a game. He’s pretty fluid over there to tell you the truth. He has soft hands and moves around pretty good. All the fundamental parts of it will be a learning experience for him.”

With Mauer out of the lineup today, Rene Rivera makes the start, as he has worked well with left-hander Francisco Liriano this season. Liriano entered Wednesday with a 1.91 ERA with 37 strikeouts and 10 walks in 33 innings with Rivera behind the plate this season.

Lineups for the 12:10 p.m. CT start at Target Field:

Rays (47-39)

1. Johnny Damon, DH
2. Ben Zobrist, RF
3. Evan Longoria, 3B
4. B.J. Upton, CF
5. Sean Rodriguez, 2B
6. Casey Kotchman, 1B
7. Justin Ruggiano, LF
8. Kelly Shoppach, C
9. Eliot Johnson, SS

RHP Wade Davis (7-6, 4.20 ERA, 4.94 FIP, 1.31 K/BB)

TWINS (38-46)

1. Ben Revere, CF
2. Alexi Casilla, 2B
3. Michael Cuddyer, 1B
4. Jim Thome, DH
5. Danny Valencia, 3B
6. Rene Tosoni, LF
7. Jason Repko, RF
8. Rene Rivera, C
9. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, SS

LHP Francisco Liriano (5-7, 4.76 ERA, 4.17 FIP, 1.66 K/BB)

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