Mauer set to return to Twins' starting lineup

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Mauer bat.jpgBig news for Twins fans.  According to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, catcher Joe Mauer will return to the starting lineup on Sunday as the designated hitter.

Mauer has missed over a week with a bruised left heel, but is apparently unfazed by swinging a bat and was able to serve as a pinch-hitter on Saturday night.  It’s not known when he will return full-time behind the plate, and the Twins should be in no hurry to force the issue because 22-year-old Wilson Ramos is playing so well.

Mauer, 27, will return to a .341/.402/.494 batting line.  He had 13 RBI and 10 extra-base hits in 84 at-bats before the injury and should have no trouble getting back on track.  The Twins currently stand 20-11, good enough for first place in the American League Central standings by 2.5 games over the Tigers.

Rays acquire RHP Drew Smith from Tigers

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The Rays acquired minor league reliever Drew Smith from the Tigers on Friday, per a team announcement. The move will close the loop on the trade the two teams began in January for backup outfielder Mikie Mahtook.

Smith, 23, pitched his first full season in Single-A West Michigan in 2016, turning in a 2.96 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 and 11.5 SO/9 in 48 2/3 innings. The right-hander is still several levels away from making any impact on the Rays’ major league roster, but appears to be progressing steadily in two seasons of pro ball and has delivered two runs, four walks and 12 strikeouts in his first 11 2/3 innings at High-A Lakeland this season. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that he’ll be reassigned to the Rays’ High-A Charlotte this week.

Yankees activate Didi Gregorius from the disabled list

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The Yankees have activated shortstop Didi Gregorius from the 10-day disabled list, the club announced on Friday. Infielder Pete Kozma was designated for assignment to clear roster space.

Gregorius, 27, suffered a strained right shoulder while playing in the World Baseball Classic last month. He’s in Friday’s starting lineup, batting sixth against the Orioles.

Last season, Gregorius hit .276/.304/.447 with 20 home runs and 70 RBI in 597 plate appearances.