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Twins preview: Mauer still questionable, southpaw Diamond looks to stymie Sox again

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Minnesota Twins catcher and batting leader Joe Mauer sat out Friday's game against the Boston Red Sox, and Saturday will be a game-time decision depending on the condition of a sore back.

As the Associated Press reports, the injury doesn't appear to be any more serious than some stiffness for the five-time All-Star catcher, who is leading the Twins with a .349 batting average and has a 14-game hitting streak.

But Manager Ron Gardenhire is listening to the trainers, according to the Twins official site. "It's pretty simple here -- he came in with a stiff back and there's no sense of him playing in this weather," Gardenhire said Friday. "[The trainers] said to give him a day here and we'll go from there. I listen to what they say."

On Friday, the Twins were not to play Mauer unless backup catcher Ryan Doumit was injured, so Joe sat. No doubt the Twins miss his consistency and presence on the field; in addition to the hitting streak, during which he has a .446 average with 11 doubles and 11 walks, he's 8 for 18 with five doubles over four meetings with the Red Sox this season.

Also hoping for continued success against the Red Sox is pitcher Scott Diamond. After starting the year on the 15-day disabled list following the removal of a bone chip from his left elbow, Diamond has pitched well for the Twins, including his seven-inning, three-hit shutdown of the Red Sox on May 7, according to the Twins site.

Diamond is a lefty, and the Sox haven't done much damage against left-handed pitchers this season. From hard throwers to soft tossers, southpaws have stymied Boston's offense to the tune of a .230 batting average and just 12 home runs in more than 500 plate appearances.

Diamond will be trying to bounce back from a poor outing Sunday against Baltimore, where he allowed six runs on nine hits, including three homers, over 5 2/3 innings.

"It's very unusual for him," Gardenhire said. "He's normally pretty spot-on."

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