The Twins hoped surgery last October to remove a bone chip from Nick Blackburn's right elbow would rejunviate the righthander and make him a candidate to win a spot in the starting rotation this spring. But Blackburn continued having problems after the surgery, and underwent another surgical procedure last week, this time on his forearm.

Blackburn is expected to miss at least four to six weeks, meaning he won't be ready to pitch when spring traiiing begins in mid-February.

Given how effective Blackburn has been in past spring trainings - and the fact he'll earn $5.5 million this season - the veteran would have been a candidate to win the No. 5 spot in the rotation. The leading candidates for the first four spots are holdover Scott Diamond and newly-acquired Vance Worley, Kevin Ciorreia and Mike Pelfrey.

Blackburn was just 4-9 with a 7.08 ERA for the Twins last season in 19 starts. But the club was willing to give him a fresh start, hopeful the bone chips were the cause of at least some of his recent problems.

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Blackburn update: Righthander will have surgery Wednesday.