CINCINNATI (AP) — Catcher Joe Mauer was back in the Minnesota Twins’ lineup on Saturday, but at a different position.

Mauer played first base and batted third for the second game of an interleague series against the Cincinnati Reds. Mauer was out of the lineup for the last four games because of a bruised right thigh.

Manager Ron Gardenhire said Mauer’s thigh was fine and he could have caught on Saturday, but he wanted to give struggling first baseman Justin Morneau a day off. Morneau is only 3 of 14 on Minnesota’s road trip.

“So it serves two purposes,” Gardenhire said. “He’s ready to catch. If I wanted him to catch today, he’d catch today. But Morney needs a break. I’m worried that there’s rivers around here and that he might jump into the water and try to swim ’em because he’s a little frustrated. I’d like him to walk across the bridges now, so I’m going to give him a break.”

Gardenhire also said closer Matt Capps was better and could be used in a non-save situation soon to ease him back into pitching. Capps hasn’t pitched in a game since June 15 because of a tender shoulder.

“I know he wants to pitch, but we’re trying to give him as many days as we can to make sure he’s good,” Gardenhire said. “And you know what? We’ve been able to do that. And that hasn’t changed.

“If we put him out there too early and he gets sore again, we’re back to square one,” Gardenhire said.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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