CLEVELAND – Although the Twins reported on Monday that Joe Mauer was feeling better, the former batting champion was unavailable for the game against Cleveland while recuperating from back spasms that knocked him out of Sunday’s game. It was the first game missed by Mauer after appearing in the previous 29.
Mauer spent time in the trainer’s room and workout room before the game, so the fact he’s able to get in some work is encouraging. The Twins still describe Mauer as day-to-day; whether he returns sooner or later remains to be seen.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Mauer came to the park Monday walking more upright than the day before.
“If you’ve had back problems, you’ll all understand that it is what it is,” Gardenhire said. “It takes a little time for them to go away sometimes.”
The timing is bad for Mauer, who entered Sunday’s game batting .450 (9-for-20) over his previous five games. He felt the spasms during pregame work and tried to play through it. He ended up leaving the game after one at-bat.
“When his back lets him play, we will put him back out there,” Gardenhire said. “He will tell us. He’s had spasms before, and we just have to let it ride out. Let the trainers do their thing.”
With Mauer out, the Twins were left with a two-man bench of Eduardo Escobar and Danny Santana.
Deduno back in rotation
One of the reasons Samuel Deduno didn’t crack the starting rotation out of spring training was because of concerns following his shoulder surgery last Sept. 18.
The Twins believed the right approach was to go easy with Deduno, who also had Tommy John surgery in 2008 when he was with the Rockies organization. Deduno’s career high for innings in a season is 146 ⅓ in 2006.
“We were worried about that in spring training, coming off surgery,” Gardenhire said. “Go one way and see what happens. The one thing we knew was that this guy is a good guy to fall back on. I guess we’ll find out now if his shoulder will be able to take every fifth day, longer stints and more pitches.”
Deduno, 0-1 with a 2.89 ERA in seven appearances, will replace Mike Pelfrey in the rotation when he takes the ball Tuesday against Cleveland. He gives the Twins a different look to throw at opponents because he can get swings and misses.
Now Deduno gets to follow righthander Kyle Gibson, who won the last spot in the rotation over Deduno during spring training.
Deduno said he was not disappointed to start the season in the bullpen. In fact, he thought the Twins did the wise thing.
“They wanted to protect me because of my arm,” Deduno said. “I understand why Gardy and Andy [pitching coach Rick Anderson] were protecting me and I think it was a good decision.”
• Outfielder Aaron Hicks, on the seven-day concussion disabled list, felt better Monday and was able to play catch.
• Josh Willingham, on the 15-day DL (left wrist), took some light swings.
• The tarp remained on the field for most of the afternoon as rain fell in downtown Cleveland. In fact, Kevin Corerria was in the middle of his bullpen session when hail began to fall. Correia was pitching in a covered section of the bullpen, but bullpen catcher Nate Dammann was exposed to the elements.