The Twins are bracing for news on righthander Ricky Nolasco, who flew back to the Twin Cities on Monday after admitting to them during a meeting that his elbow has been bothering him for several weeks.

Suspicions were raised on Sunday when Nolasco's velocity was down and stuff was sub-standard during a two-inning outing. Nolasco gave up six runs during that non-competitive outing.

Nolasco tried to tell manager Ron Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson he could pitch with the problem, but they would have none of that. Nolasco, the Twins' big free agent fish who signed a three-year, $49 million contract during the offseason, will be examined by Twins director of medical services Dr. John Steubs.

Gardenhire said he had no problems with Nolasco trying to manage discomfort but the results weren't there. He's 5-7 overall with a 5.90 ERA that is the highest among qualified starters in the American League.

``He's an old school pitching guy,'' Gardenhire said. ``We went through it and asked, `How can we help you? What do we need to do to fix you?'  and he said, `You know what I had a little bit of soreness in my elbow, it's not a big deal but I can pitch through it.'  We said it is a big deal. Your velocity is down, the whole package.''

Who steps in?

Samuel Deduno could start on Friday in Colorado in place of Nolasco. The Twins also could make a call to Class AAA Rochester.

Lefthander Kris Johnson is 8-4, 2.75 at Class AAA Rochester after giving up one run over seven innings on Sunday and is on the same schedule as Nolasco.

The Twins will wait to learn the results of Nolasco's exam on Tuesday, but are prepared to make to make a roster move.

``My opinion?'' Gardenhire said. ``It's hard for me to think (Nolasco) is going to start on Friday if he has a sore elbow.''

Gardenhire then hinted that someone might have to take, `a long plane ride.'

Meyer for May

Trevor May has been pulled out of the All-Star Futures Game because of a strained right calf muscle. While it's a blow for May, the Twins were allowed to replace him with another prospect - Alex Meyer.

Meyer has been limited in his pitch counts because he missed considerable time last season with a sore shoulder. He's 5-4 with a 3.46 ERA with 39 walks and 93 strikeouts in 831/3 innings. In each of his last two outings, Meyer has given up one run over six innings while holding the opponent to three hits.

``He's had his ups and downs. He's had some tremendous games and he's had some games where he's really struggled with his comand,'' Antony said. ``But his last outing was very good and he had two or three before that he wasn't as good. We know he has the pitches, we're just looking for some consistency.''


Baseball America released a top 50 midseason prospect rankiings, as the Twins had five players among the top 32.

1. Byron Buxon. 9. Miguel Sano. 27. Jose Berrios. 30. Kohl Stewart and 32. Meyer.

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