Morneau rests; Mauer returns

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 23, 2012 - 9:32 PM
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Minnesota Twins first baseman Joe Mauer cannot reach a foul ball hit by Cincinnati Reds' Zack Cozart in the first inning of a baseball game on Saturday, June 23, 2012, in Cincinnati.

Photo: Al Behrman, Associated Press - Ap

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CINCINNATI - With Joe Mauer ready to start a game for the first time in six days, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire gave Justin Morneau a break Saturday, putting Mauer at first base and leaving Morneau on the bench.

"He's ready to catch," Gardenhire said of Mauer, who was out with a bruised right quad muscle. "But Mourneau needs a break. I'm worried that there are rivers around [Cincinnati], and that he might jump in the water and try to swim because he's been a little frustrated. I'd like him to walk across the bridges."

After going hitless Friday, Morneau is batting .222 in June, with one home run in 22 games.

"He's hit some balls right on the nose," Gardenhire said. "It's all about the team with Morneau, but those things add up and you get frustrated.

"He plays the game hard, he runs things out, he does all the things you're supposed to do as a player. But I can sense he's getting a little frustrated. It's funny. There's good comedy. That Canadian accent comes out pretty good in that dugout."

Waiting is hardest part

On Friday, Matt Capps declined to comment about the team's decision not to use him in a 5-4 victory. On Saturday, he explained.

"I'm frustrated because I'm starting to feel better, but it's not quick as me or anybody would like," said Capps, who pitched in the eighth inning Saturday, his first appearance since June 15 because of a sore shoulder. "But I think they're doing the right thing by not letting me make the decision.

"They're probably doing what's in my personal best interests to take it easy the last week. I appreciate that, I respect that, but the competitive side of me wanted to be out there."

Capps had his shoulder checked twice last weekend by Dr. Dan Buss. The righthander had bullpen sessions Tuesday and Wednesday and felt sore Thursday. He was ready to pitch Friday, but the Twins were only going to use him in an emergency.

"That's the frustrating part and the reason I didn't speak [to the media] yesterday," Capps said. "I go out to bullpen for the game feeling like I'm going to be in there in the right situation and then I'm not-- not that it's a miscommunication or anything like that."

Pitching coach Rick Anderson told Capps that the goal was to use him in a non-save situation to let him ease his way back, and that is how things turned out Saturday. Capps entered with the Twins trailing 5-0. He gave up a double to Jay Bruce and walked Scott Rolen. Bruce scored on an error, but after two flyouts, Capps struck out Zack Cozart.

"I could still feel it a little bit in there but from what they're telling me, with everything going on, I'm probably going to for a couple of weeks," Capps said, noting that the big test will be how he feels Sunday. "For the most part I was pretty happy with the way I threw the ball. Better than I expected."

Etc.

• Injured righthander P.J. Walters (right shoulder inflammation) has two bullpen sessions coming, and if both go well, he could return in Saturday's doubleheader against the Royals.

• The Reds inducted Sean Casey, Dan Driessen and 19th century first baseman John Reilly into their Hall of Fame in a pregame ceremony. Gardenhire couldn't wait to see which Reds alumni showed up, having followed the team closely as a kid, rooting for fellow Oklahoma native Johnny Bench. Gardenhire said one of his all-time favorite players was Davey Concepcion, and he went out of his way to greet the nine-time All-Star shortstop after the ceremony.

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