The Twins will juggle their starting rotation this week to ensure that Johan Santana starts Game 1 of the American League Division Series and Boof Bonser will start Game 2.
Santana will not start Sunday in the regular-season finale against the Chicago White Sox so he can prepare for Tuesday's start, giving him seven days to rest his back and hip and mend the blister that occasionally pops up on his finger.
"A lot of things went into it," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "His health, which is fine. He can pitch but we know he has that issue with the blisters. We want to make sure he's ready."
Bonser will start Friday on a day's short rest and probably pitch only five innings or so. That will set him up to start Game 2 on Oct. 4.
The Game 3 starter will depend on Brad Radke's availability and effectiveness. Radke is the starter Thursday in the final game of the Kansas City Royals series, giving the Twins one chance to evaluate his postseason readiness. If he doesn't pass the test, Matt Garza will start Game 3.
If Radke makes a stunning comeback, Garza or Carlos Silva will start Game 4 if necessary, with Santana available to start a possible Game 5.
Radke's comeback hinges on his Thursday start, which could be the final one of his career if he doesn't pitch well.
Radke, 33, is trying to win a spot on the postseason roster after suffering a stress fracture in his shoulder last month. After throwing in the bullpen Monday, Radke reported a little discomfort Tuesday, but not enough to keep him from taking the ball.
"I feel pretty good," he said.
Radke, 12-9 with a 4.46 ERA, hasn't appeared in a game since July 26. He said Monday his goal is to pitch in the playoffs, but the Twins don't have enough time in the regular season to fully determine his sharpness and stamina.
So Thursday's outing is his audition. The Twins will have until Sunday to measure how well he recovers.
"Can he just let it fly and feel great?" Gardenhire said. "It also gives us a few days to know how he's feeling by that Sunday. If he rebounds and he says his arm is coming along, that is great. If it is not, then we know we can't go that route."
Gardenhire decided to rest Joe Mauer on Tuesday, starting Mike Redmond behind the plate.
Even though the Twins are hunting for a division title, Gardenhire is going to try to give a day of rest to shortstop Jason Bartlett, second baseman Luis Castillo and right fielder Michael Cuddyer over the next few days.
Some other post-clinching developments:
Torii Hunter said he received congratulatory phone calls from former teammates Matt Lawton and Mike Lincoln and Giants defensive end Michael Strahan.