DETROIT -- Reliever Alex Burnett has been impressive recently, as he enters Tuesday's game having thrown 16 scoreless innings dating back to May 23.
Burnett has allowed just four hits and four walks over that stretch with seven strikeouts. He recorded four key outs in Monday's 6-4 win over the Tigers, striking out Brennan Boesch on three pitches to end the seventh with two runners on base before tossing a scoreless eighth.
"He's just taken off," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's very confident right now. The ball's coming out of his hand really good -- all of his pitches. And he's got an exploding fastball, a nice little flip at the end that makes the ball jump."
Burnett, 24, has a 1.77 ERA with 18 strikeouts and 11 walks over 40 2/3 innings this season. It's been a big turnaround from last season, when he had a 5.51 ERA in 50 2/3 innings.
Mauer eager to spend more time behind the dish
DETROIT -- Joe Mauer was back behind the plate against the Tigers on Tuesday after serving as designated hitter in Monday's 6-4 win, and he said he hopes to see more playing time at catcher moving forward.
Mauer, who has an 11-game hit streak, has seen plenty of action away from catcher this season, as he's made 20 starts at designated hitter and 14 starts at first base, while making 35 starts behind the plate.
Mauer said that with Justin Morneau healthy and playing first base, he's hoping to be able to make more starts at catcher.
"I think that's the best way I can help the team," Mauer said. "But situations like that arise where I can keep my bat in the lineup, that is a good thing."
Mauer, who was selected to be an All-Star for the fifth time in his career, has played in 72 of his team's 80 games this season.
He said he's happy he's been able to stay in the lineup this season after playing in just 81 games last year due to various injuries.
"I've had some things come up here and there, but I've stayed on the field a lot," Mauer said. "That was one of my big goals coming into the season, and I'm definitely proud of that. It's been a different year. Coming into this season, I didn't anticipate playing as much at first base. ... But things like Morneau's situation come into play. And I've always told Gardy [manager Ron Gardenhire] whatever he thinks is best, I'll give it my best. So it's meant playing more first base. But I think now I'll get back to catching and DHing and helping the team out that way."
Hendriks optioned after start, De Vries recalled
DETROIT -- A day after right-hander Liam Hendriks gave up four runs in four-plus innings against the Tigers, the Twins optioned him to Triple-A Rochester on Tuesday. Right-hander Cole De Vries was recalled from Rochester to take his place on the roster.
Hendriks, 23, is winless in 12 career starts, with a career 6.71 ERA. He has a 7.04 ERA in eight outings this season.
He appeared in line for his first win on Monday, as he took a 6-1 lead into the fifth inning, but he allowed four straight runners to reach base and was pulled from the game in favor of reliever Anthony Swarzak.
"He wasn't commanding his pitches, he wasn't aggressive in the zone, he wasn't attacking hitters -- and, you know, he gets staked to a 6-1 lead and he looked like he was pitching scared, like he was trying to get through an inning," assistant general manager Rob Antony said. "And that's not him. When he's effective, he's attacking the hitters, keeping the ball down in the zone and using all four pitches. He was choking off his breaking ball. I think he just mentally needs to regroup."
De Vries, meanwhile, pitched well against the Royals on Saturday, allowing one run on five hits over six innings. But he was called up that day as the 26th man for a doubleheader, and was optioned to Rochester after his start.
De Vries will take Hendriks' spot in the rotation, which means he's slated to start Saturday against the Rangers in Texas.
He's also expected to be available in the bullpen Tuesday in case of emergency, as the bullpen has been depleted since Saturday's doubleheader.
"It would be a bullpen session for him, so he'll be available out in the bullpen," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Hopefully we won't be able to use him, but definitely available."