Joe Mauer returns to Twins’ lineup after back spasms

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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.

Angels release Matt Harvey

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Among several transactions made on Sunday, the Angels announced that pitcher Matt Harvey has been released. The right-hander was designated for assignment on Friday.

Harvey, 30, was hoping to bounce back with the Angels after signing a one-year, $11 million contract in December. It didn’t work out. In 12 starts spanning 59 2/3 innings, Harvey allowed 47 earned runs on 63 hits and 29 walks with 39 strikeouts. Harvey missed time between May 24 and July 12 with an upper back injury.

Since his 2015 campaign with the Mets, after recovering from Tommy John surgery, Harvey has a 5.65 ERA in exactly 400 innings. Given his age, he could still find an opportunity with another team short on pitching depth, but he is running out of leash, as they say.