Mauer returns to the lineup for first time since Sunday

DETROIT — After missing five games with lower back spasms, Joe Mauer returned to the lineup on Saturday against the Tigers, starting at designated hitter and batting third.

Mauer was able to hit in the cages without any issues before the game, and told Twins manager Ron Gardenhire he was also able to run the bases. So Gardenhire called it an easy decision to put Mauer in the lineup for the first time since Sunday.

“He came in and got to the park early and did some stuff and said he wanted to play,” Gardenhire said. “The trainers said the same thing. He feels good and can run all the bases and all those things.”

Gardenhire added he was relieved Mauer was able to avoid the 15-day disabled list, as it would’ve kept him out of action until May 20 against the Padres.

“With backs, it’s something you don’t want to deal with too much,” Gardenhire said. “When you start feeling better you always want to give it a few extra days. I’ve had it and we’ve all had it, and it’s just not very fun. So I’m just happy to see him in here wanting to play.”

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