“We talked about it,” Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. “I asked him about playing the rest of the games and what could we do to ensure he felt good enough to do that and maybe he could DH a couple days. He said he’s doing fine, doing what he has to do to get ready every day.”
Using the designated hitter spot in lineups is popular among American League managers as a way to keep a player’s bat in the lineup while avoiding the stress of being on the field for nine innings.
“I think it’s been good,” Mauer said Thursday night of how he’s been rested this season. Even though maybe at some points earlier in the year I might have wanted to get out there, I understand it and I think it’s paying off.
“I’m playing pretty well lately. Looking at the bigger picture, I think it’s helped.”
Mauer, who has started at designated hitter 12 times, will be facing a southpaw Saturday night.
Left-hander Matthew Boyd will start for Detroit, his first outing since tossing a one-hitter last Sunday against the Chicago White Sox.
Boyd (6-10, 5.33 ERA) had a no-hitter until two outs in the ninth. He is getting an extra day of rest.
The southpaw is 5-1 against Minnesota in his career with a 3.83 ERA in nine starts. Mauer is 0-for-5 lifetime off Boyd.
The Twins counter with right-hander Ervin Santana (15-8, 3.34 ERA), the likely choice to pitch a wild card playoff game should Minnesota be involved and if his team can clinch in time to set it up.
Santana lost his most recent start, against the New York Yankees on Monday. He holds a 9-5 edge against Detroit in his career — 21 starts — with a 3.37 ERA but hasn’t beaten the Tigers since 2015.
The Tigers will be working with a short-timer as manager, Brad Ausmus.
“I found out a couple days ago I wouldn’t be coming back,” Ausmus said. “I knew before the Twins series started that I wasn’t coming back. But I prepared for the Twins series like I prepared for any other series. Try and help this team win.”
Ausmus will finish out the season as manager, which he said he would willingly do because he is contracted to do so, then go back to San Diego and spend a little time with his wife and youngest daughter, a senior in high school.