Joe Mauer back in Twins’ lineup after sprained right thumb

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According to Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com, Joe Mauer is back in the Twins’ starting lineup this afternoon against the Cubs. He’ll catch left-hander Scott Diamond and bat third against right-hander Jeff Samardzija.

Mauer has missed the last four games with a sprained right thumb, but it was never a major concern. He made it through batting practice yesterday with no issues.

Injuries and illness limited Mauer to just 82 games last year, but he has played in 52 of the Twins’ 56 games this season. The 29-year-old backstop is hitting .298/.407/.419 with three home runs, 25 RBI and an .826 OPS through 226 plate appearances.

Report: Orioles interested in Lance Lynn

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The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.

Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.

Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.