Joe Mauer has returned to the Twins’ lineup this afternoon against the Tigers after missing five straight games with lower back spasms. He’ll serve as the designated hitter and hit third against Max Scherzer.
Mauer hasn’t played since leaving a game last Sunday against the Orioles. While he described the back spasms as “pretty brutal,” he managed to avoid a stint on the disabled list. The Twins will ease him back into things today, but a return to first base shouldn’t be far off if he feels good.
Mauer was really heating up prior to the back issue, hitting .394 (13-for-33) with one home run, five RBI, and five walks over his last nine games. The 31-year-old owns a .296/.393/.374 batting line so far this season.
Cubs infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with back soreness. The move is retroactive to April 14. While it doesn’t appear to be the precursor to any serious injury, Zobrist has already missed six straight days of activity after feeling his back tighten up last weekend. Should he see the minimum time on the DL, as expected, he’ll be eligible to return by the start of the Cubs’ series against the Indians on Tuesday.
Prior to his injury, the 36-year-old outfielder raked an impressive .326/.408/.465 with three extra-base hits in 49 plate appearances. He last appeared for the Cubs during their homestand last weekend and helped propel the team to a 14-10 win over the Braves with three hits, two walks and two RBI. Provided that he can remain healthy going forward, it’s a promising start for the veteran outfielder, who has yet to return to the All-Star-worthy numbers he posted with the club in 2016.
With Zobrist sidelined for the time being, Ian Happ and Albert Almora Jr. have shared the leadoff spot and center field duties over the last week. Happ went 0-for-8 with six strikeouts in two games before passing the baton to Almora, who collected five hits and two RBI in 11 at-bats.