Mauer batting second vs. Tigers on Opening Day

MINNEAPOLIS — When Twins manager Ron Gardenhire unveiled his lineup for Opening Day against the Tigers this morning, there was a surprise with catcher Joe Mauer getting the start as the club’s second hitter for just the 74th time in his career.

Mauer, who hit second only 10 times over the previous three seasons, got the nod in the two-hole with second baseman Brian Dozier sliding down from second to bat eighth against Tigers ace Justin Verlander.

“I want him to bat first, second and third but I can only bat him in one place, so we chose second,” Gardenhire joked. “As [hitting coach Tom] Brunansky and I talked, we talked about ‘ambush.’ So we’re going to ambush at the top with all these hitters and go from there.”

Mauer, who led the American League with a .416 on-base percentage in 2012, said he’s fine with the move to the second spot in the lineup behind rookie Aaron Hicks and in front of sluggers Josh Willingham, Justin Morneau and Ryan Doumit.

“I told Gardy that I don’t have a problem wherever he puts me in the lineup, as long as I’m in the lineup,” Mauer said. “And what gives us our best chance to score runs, so hopefully we can get some runs.”

Gardenhire, though, said the move isn’t permanent and Mauer can move down to his usual third spot in the lineup if someone like Dozier proves capable of batting second.

“It’s for today, and we can always adjust as we go along,” Gardenhire said.

Tigers
1. Austin Jackson, CF
2. Torii Hunter, RF
3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
4. Price Fielder, 1B
5. Victor Martinez, DH
6. Andy Dirks, LF
7. Jhonny Peralta, SS
8. Alex Avila, C
9. Omar Infante, 2B

RHP Justin Verlander

Twins
1. Aaron Hicks, CF
2. Joe Mauer, C
3. Josh Willingham, LF
4. Justin Morneau, 1B
5. Ryan Doumit, DH
6. Trevor Plouffe, 3B
7. Chris Parmelee, RF
8. Brian Dozier, 2B
9. Pedro Florimon, SS

RHP Vance Worley

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