La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Suzuki starts at catcher, feels 'due' vs. Saunders; Hicks late scratch

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: May 28, 2014 - 5:27 PM

Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki is in the lineup batting sixth against Rangers pitcher Joe Saunders on Wednesday despite his lack of success against the southpaw. Suzuki has then most at bats on the team against Saunders (31) with just two hits (one home run), two talks and one strikeout.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Suzuki was pleading his case to stay in the lineup following Tuesday’s 4-3 win over Texas.

“I’m due skipper; don’t take me out of the game,” Gardenhire said Suzuki told him Tuesday night.

Saunders, 32, is making his first start since he was placed on the disabled list on April 7 with a stress fracture in his left ankle. He’s made just one start this season on April 4 against Tampa Bay and received the loss allowing five runs (four earned) on six hits in 3 2/3 innings.

Gardenhire opted to stick with Suzuki because he’s hitting .341 (15 of 44) against left handers this season, and he likes the way Suzuki handles starting pitcher Kyle Gibson.

“He controls him a little bit better right now,” Gardenhire said. “He’s able to talk to him and calm him down so that’s another big part of it.”

Josmil Pinto isn’t starting for the fourth straight game. He struck out as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning on Tuesday in his only at bat over the previous three games.

“I wanted to try and get Pinto in there today but using both catchers is always risky,” Gardenhire said. “We had them both out there last night and never feel comfortable. As we go along, I’m going to put them both in the lineup anyway because Pinto is going to get plenty of swings.

Gardenhire said Pinto will start behind the plate for Thursday’s day game with Samuel Deduno on the mound.

Update: Twins outfielder Aaron Hicks was a late scratch due to a stiff lower back and will be further evaluated by team doctors. Infielder Danny Santana will now start in center field and bat ninth.

Here’s the lineup:

Rangers (26-26)

Shin- Soo Choo (L), LF

Elvis Andrus, SS

Mitch Moreland (L), 1B

Adrian Beltre, 3B

Alex Rios, DH

Michael Choice, RF

Leonys Martin (L), CF

Robinson Chirinos, C

Luis Sardinas (S), 2B

Joe Saunders, LHP

Twins (24-25)

Brian Dozier, 2B

Joe Mauer (L), 1B

Trevor Plouffe, DH

Oswaldo Arcia (L), RF

Josh Willingham, LF

Kurt Suzuki, C

Eduardo Nunez, 3B

Eduardo Escobar (S), SS

Danny Santana, CF

Kyle Gibson, RHP

-- MASTER TESFATSION

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