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Mauer willing to bunt on shift

KANSAS CITY -- If Joe Mauer wants to draw his bat in and lay down a bunt to ignite a rally, it's a small-ball weapon that's perfectly acceptable to Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.

The Royals played the shift against Mauer on Saturday and he responded by dropping a bunt down the third-base line to reach first as the leadoff hitter in the fifth inning. Kansas City had just taken a 5-2 lead.

"I don't mind it a bit," Gardenhire said. "Joe's an on-base guy and a line-drive hitter. That's another weapon he can use."

Against left-hander Bruce Chen, Mauer had wide-open spaces on the left side of the infield. A few more bunts like that and opponents may have to reconsider how they position their defense against Mauer.

Robert Falkoff is a contributor to
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