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Mauer returns from absence, gets 2 hits for Twins

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Minnesota star Joe Mauer is hitting in March like, well, an MVP.

Mauer got two hits in his return from a four-day absence Tuesday, and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Twins 3-1.

The 26-year-old catcher had been out while resting a sore right shoulder, the result of a stray foul tip. He said all along there was no reason for concern.

The three-time AL batting champion and reigning MVP is hitting .600 this spring.

Mauer was replaced by Drew Butera, who had an RBI groundout and is competing to make the opening day roster as a backup catcher while Jose Morales recovers from wrist surgery.

Twins opening-day starter Scott Baker threw four shutout innings, before Chad Moeller put the Orioles ahead with a two-run homer in the sixth against reliever Clay Condrey.

Moeller, the front-runner to back up young star Matt Wieters, was drafted by the Twins in 1996 and made his major league debut with them in 2000. The Orioles are his seventh team.

The Orioles left most of their regulars in Sarasota for an intrasquad game. Justin Turner hit an RBI single in the fifth and Jeff Salazar made two over-the-shoulder catches in center field to rob Michael Cuddyer of a pair of extra-base hits.

Twins prospect Ben Revere went 2 for 3, though he was caught stealing second after oversliding the base. Revere is the only natural center fielder in Minnesota's camp this year, so he gave Denard Span a day off.

The 21-year-old Revere led all of minor league baseball with a .379 batting average in 2008. Last season, he hit .311 with two home runs, 48 RBIs and 45 stolen bases for the Class A Fort Myers Miracle, the most steals in the Twins organization. The first-round draft pick in 2007 has won Minnesota's minor league player of the year award twice in a row.

This spring, Revere is hitting .346.

"He's playing very well," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's swinging the bat. He runs the ball down. This is a good opportunity for him. We've heard all the reports about how good the young man is and how good a hitter he is. We've seen him down the street a few times, but this is our chance to see him. He's fun to watch. That's why he's one of our top prospects, if not the top prospect, in our organization."

Revere said he has learned a lot, especially from Span.

"Now I'm facing major league pitchers pretty much every day, or I'm facing Triple-A pitchers with really good stuff. It's a big-time learning process. I think it will help me a lot. Now when I get to Double-A or Triple-A, I'll be used to it already," Revere said.

Span said he's simply doing what former Twins All-Star Torii Hunter did for him.

I'll try to help him the best I can. Torii, he always told me to try and help the next kid out," Span said.

NOTES: Twins closer Joe Nathan will test his right elbow during a bullpen session this weekend. After he throws, Nathan will determine whether he can pitch through a torn ulnar collateral ligament or have season-ending surgery. Gardenhire said Nathan could test his arm Saturday, Sunday or Monday, guessing that Sunday would be the day. ... Orioles reliever Koji Uehara gave up Revere's bunt single in one inning of work. ... Cuddyer started at 1B in place of Justin Morneau, who is resting sore ribs and a sore back. He's expected to play on Thursday.