CHICAGO – Tommy Milone tried to throw in the bullpen Saturday morning in advance of his start Monday.
"It was not good," he said.
Soon after that, the Twins announced that Milone would not make his start on Monday against the Tigers. And the Twins aren't sure if Milone will return to the mound before the season ends.
"I can't predict when that's going to ultimately be healthy enough for him to take the mound," Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said. "I don't know."
Milone felt pain shoot up his neck Wednesday during long-toss drills and felt discomfort throughout his session Saturday.
"I could feel it on pretty much every throw," Milone said. "It wasn't bad but I could tell I was holding back. I was trying to not make my neck hurt.
"The last two pitches I tried to let it go like I would normally in a game. And it didn't feel good. We shut it down."
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Anthony Swarzak is the preferred candidate to start in place of Milone, but that's if the bullpen survives three games in two days in Chicago, thanks to Friday's rainout creating a doubleheader Saturday. Swarzak is 3-1 with a 3.95 ERA in 47 games, including one start.
It's been a rocky road for Milone since being traded to the Twins from Oakland for Sam Fuld on July 31. Milone, 27, was 6-3 with a 3.55 ERA in 16 starts with Oakland but is 0-1 with a 7.40 ERA in five starts with the Twins. He missed his previous start because of a tired arm, but said Saturday that his arm felt great.
The neck, however, has been an issue most of the season. It hadn't interfered with his throwing until Saturday.
"I have been battling this side of my neck the whole year, ever since spring training with the A's," he said. "So it is something I have been dealing with. It has never affected me while I was throwing.
"Wednesday, I was throwing long toss, and it was a sharp pain on one of those throws. It shot up my neck and since then it hasn't been the same."
Milone has been unable to show the Twins what he can do.
"That's what is really frustrating," he said. "Finally getting back to where I feel strong and feel good, and something else pops up."
The Twins on Thursday notified minor league baseball that they are looking into a new Class AA affiliation, one step away from ending their relationship with New Britain of the Eastern League.
Talks between the Twins and New Britain can still take place, but the Twins, starting Tuesday, can also negotiate with other potential affiliates.
New Britain is the only team in the Eastern League that could be available, so the Twins could wind up in the Texas League (Tulsa is available) or Southern League (Chattanooga, Mobile and Biloxi are available) if they don't return to the Connecticut town.