Blackburn in line for home opener
Four-fifths of the Twins rotation appears to be set. And three-fifths of the rotation has worrisome issues.
After Nick Blackburn held Boston to two runs over five innings Friday, Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson said the righthander's next outing will be the exhibition game Wednesday against the Class A Fort Myers Miracle.
Anderson took things one step further.
"Figure the math," he said. "Five days after that, when he's throwing again? The home opener."
That's April 9 at Target Field vs. the Angels.
Carl Pavano is set to pitch on Opening Day in Baltimore, followed by Francisco Liriano. The third game is expected to go to Liam Hendriks, who tossed five strong innings against Toronto on Friday in Dunedin.
Hendriks will step in for Jason Marquis, who remains in Staten Island, N.Y., tending to his 7-year-old daughter, who was in a serious bicycle accident. That's one of three issues affecting the rotation.
Scott Baker, who has a 13.50 ERA this spring, will try to prove he is past the right elbow tendinitis that slowed him early in camp when he faces Boston's Class AAA squad Saturday. But the Twins have prepared Blackburn to replace him early in the season.
"He's just got to step up his urgency, I guess," General Manager Terry Ryan said of Baker. "I don't know if it just clicks with him or what the deal is, but we're getting pretty close to having to set this roster. I know all of us are anxious to see what he looks like [Saturday]."
And Wednesday, news broke that Pavano has been the target of an alleged extortion attempt by an ex-classmate.
"I talked to [Pavano]," Ryan said. "He's got people that are handling this situation. It's in the legal [system], and that's where it's going to stay."
Pavano declined to comment Friday, citing respect for the legal process.Casilla has MRI
Twins second baseman Alexi Casilla had an magnetic resonance imaging exam on his right knee, which revealed an inflamed bursa but no other structural damage. He's day to day. Casilla was scratched from Thursday's lineup when the back of his knee stiffened up.Etc.
Joe Mauer had two singles and an RBI against the Red Sox as he ran his spring batting average up to .367. Justin Morneau had a RBI double, extending his hitting streak to six games.
Kyle Waldrop (strained right elbow) will open the season on the disabled list, Ryan said. Waldrop tried to throw Thursday but still felt discomfort. "It's disappointing, but it's baseball,'' said Waldrop, who has a 1.50 ERA in six Grapefruit League appearances. "Injuries happen. I just have to take care of it right now and move forward."
The Twins bolstered their minor league first base depth, acquiring Matt Rizzotti from the Phillies. Rizzotti, 26, hit .295 with a .392 on-base percentage, a .511 slugging percentage and 24 home runs last year for Class AA Reading.On deck
Anthony Swarzak, who tossed 32/3 hitless innings against the Orioles on Tuesday, will make another start Saturday vs. Pittsburgh.
LA VELLE E. NEAL III
AND JOE CHRISTENSEN