Mauer's gotta slow down to start

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 8, 2007 - 8:31 PM

Joe Mauer is expected to return to the starting lineup for the first time in two weeks.

CHICAGO — Joe Mauer met Saturday with Twins manager Ron Gardenhire in hopes of returning to the lineup today, and Gardenhire said that was fine, under one condition:

"You have to run like [Mike] Redmond," Gardenhire said, meaning slow enough not to aggravate his left hamstring injury.

Mauer, batting .294, is expected to make his first start since Aug. 25.

"It's still sore, but that's how it's going to be for the rest of the [season]," Mauer said.

Early in a season, teams usually don't want players returning until they are healthy enough to go full speed without fear of making injuries worse. Now, only 20 games remain.

The Twins want Mauer to play, yet under control.

"What we always teach here is bust it all the way, but he's got to take it easy," Gardenhire said. "His hammy's not 100 percent, but he wants to get out there."

Morning after

Gardenhire said what stuck in his head most from Friday's 11-10, 13-inning loss was the unraveling of rookie reliever Julio DePaula.

"Thirteen pitches, five runs, whatever it was," Gardenhire said. "It felt like five pitches."

The Twins broke a 4-4 tie with six runs in the top of the ninth, and DePaula went to protect a 10-4 lead.

DePaula carried a 31.50 ERA with him back to the minors after making his first three big league appearances in May, but he had posted a 2.53 ERA in six appearances since his return in August.

The Twins were troubled by his pitch selection.

A hard-throwing sinker specialist, he gave up his first two hits on off-speed pitches. Then, after a visit from pitching coach Rick Anderson, DePaula threw nothing but sinkers.

Soon, Josh Fields hit a two-run double, and Jim Thome hit a three-run homer, trimming the lead to 10-9.

"That's amazing because the kid had been throwing so good lately," Gardenhire said.

Nathan's pause

Gardenhire wanted closer Joe Nathan to face Thome, but after warming up during the top half-inning, Nathan wasn't ready. He had resumed warming during Fields' at-bat, which lasted just two pitches.

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