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Twins reliever Matt Capps

Jerry Holt, Star Tribune file

Shoulder woes send Capps to DL

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN
  • Star Tribune
  • July 18, 2012 - 12:06 AM

The Twins returned Matt Capps to the 15-day disabled list Tuesday after the reliever irritated the rotator cuff in his right shoulder in Monday's game.

To replace Capps on the active roster, the Twins promoted Nick Blackburn from Class AAA Rochester, with plans to have him take Brian Duensing's turn in the rotation Friday in Kansas City.

Blackburn was 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA in two starts for Rochester, and Duensing is 0-4 with a 10.13 ERA as a starter.

The Capps news dashed the Twins' hopes of trading him before the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline. If he returns healthy in August, the Twins could still try to trade him, but he would first have to be placed on waivers.

Capps, 28, is 1-4 with a 3.81 ERA and has converted 14 of 15 save chances. He is making $4.5 million this year, and the Twins hold a $6 million option for next year, with a $250,000 buyout.

He was on the DL because of right shoulder inflammation from June 24 until Friday and made two appearances before getting shut down again.

Capps is scheduled to have another MRI exam Wednesday.

"Hopefully we can get him back in 15 days," General Manager Terry Ryan said.

Liriano's trade watch

Francisco Liriano can become a free agent at season's end, but the Twins have yet to approach him about a contract extension. With the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline approaching, some pitchers likely will have extension offers to contemplate -- Cole Hamels from the Phillies, Zack Greinke from the Brewers -- before those teams officially begin shopping them.

But the Twins have gone year-to-year with Liriano throughout his career. The lefthander is making $5.5 million this season and is said to be seeking a three-year deal.

Liriano, 28, faces Baltimore on Wednesday, coming off a 15-strikeout outing Friday.

Healthy, yet unsatisfied

After injuries limited him to 69 games last year, Justin Morneau played in his 70th game Tuesday, as Joe Mauer matched last year's season total by playing in his 82nd game.

"Maybe from the outside looking in, it is [an accomplishment], but for me, I expected to come in and help us win, and right now we're in last place," Morneau said. "We're still alive. If we get hot, we'll be right back in it. But I'm not one who takes pride in anything if we're 13 games out of first place, or whatever."

Mauer is second in the American League batting race, at .333, and leads the league in on-base percentage, at .420. Morneau has only one home run since June 4, but a 14-game hitting streak lifted his batting average from .229 to .254. The hitting streak ended with an 0-for-3 Tuesday.

"He's confident, using the whole field, getting the barrel on the ball a lot more," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I think the power will come as he goes along. But right now, it's just about seeing him smile and getting some hits. He needed that. Once you get your confidence, everything else seems to come."

Etc.

• Carl Pavano (right rotator cuff weakness) played long toss from 150 feet Tuesday and said he felt strong. He will do that again Thursday, and if all goes well the righthander will have his first mound session Sunday, starting what he called "a mini spring training."

• P.J. Walters (right shoulder inflammation) had an MRI exam that showed no structural damage, clearing him to ramp up his rehab program again, Ryan said.

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