Mauer returns from one-game rest for elbow

Twins first baseman held out after getting plunked against D-backs

Mauer returns from one-game rest for elbow

DETROIT -- After missing Wednesday's game with a right elbow contusion, Twins first baseman Joe Mauer returned to the lineup on Thursday in the series opener against the Tigers.

Mauer sustained the injury when getting hit with a pitch right above the elbow in the first inning of Tuesday's game against the D-backs. He was held out of the lineup for precautionary reasons Wednesday.

But Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Mauer felt better on Thursday, and wanted to use his best players against the first-place Tigers, who entered the four-game series with a two-game lead over the Royals in the American League Central.

"I think he's OK. He took it right off the elbow so it was barking pretty good. But it could be worse. We wanted to give him an extra day yesterday."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.