Joe Mauer returns to the lineup and Justin Morneau takes BP

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Joe Mauer is back in the Twins’ lineup at designated hitter tonight after sitting out nine games with a knee injury, which is a good sign given that Minnesota certainly had the leeway to continue resting him through the final weekend.
In other positive Twins news, Justin Morneau felt good enough to take pregame batting practice this afternoon, and even played some catch with a football in the outfield. Not so long ago Morneau was totally out of the public eye as he struggled with post-concussion symptoms, but the former MVP is seemingly finally making some progress in his recovery.
Morneau admitted after the round of BP that being ready for the ALDS next week likely isn’t realistic, but expressed some optimism at being available for the ALCS if the Twins advance that far. Last week Ron Gardenhire basically ruled out Morneau until 2011, so even some hope for a mid-October return is very nice to hear after more than three months on the sidelines.

The Rays announce “The Rays Tank.” Really.

Tampa Bay Rays
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Earlier this offseason the Rays traded away franchise player Evan Longoria. Over the weekend they traded starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins and designated All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment. These were clearly financially driven moves, and now the Rays sport a payroll of less than $70 million. The club’s offseason moves prompted Longoria to say that he feels sorry for Rays fans.

If you asked Rays brass, I’m sure they’d make strong statements defending all of these moves while offering evidence-light arguments that, yes, they truly are interested in fielding a competitive team in 2018. They would likely react VERY angrily to any suggestion that they are tanking this year. Teams never admit that they’re tanking.

In other news, the Rays announced a new blog:

Oh.