PORT CHARLOTTE, FLA. - Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Nick Blackburn has earned a spot in the starting rotation, leaving two pitchers batting for the fifth spot -- Scott Baker and Kevin Slowey.
Blackburn pitched three perfect innings in Saturday's 6-1 victory over Tampa Bay.
"I'd say Blacky's in the rotation," Gardenhire said. "I like that sinkerball. If he's healthy, he's going at it pretty good. I like what we're seeing. He's one of my guys."
Blackburn went 10-12 with a 5.42 ERA last year and had arthroscopic surgery to remove loose particles from his right elbow. In his first start this spring, he threw two scoreless innings.
"This is probably the best I've felt in the last several springs, with knees and everything included," Blackburn said. "I'm finally getting out there to run a little bit. My legs feel stronger, which carries over to my delivery, too. My elbow feels great. I can't remember having as much freedom in my elbow as I've had."
Gardenhire hinted that he would like to make it a three-man battle for the final rotation spot, adding prospect Kyle Gibson to the mix. But the manager knows the front office will lean toward starting Gibson in the minors.
Slowey pitched three scoreless innings Friday in his second spring appearance. Baker, another righthander who had arthroscopic elbow surgery last October, is scheduled to make his second appearance Monday against St. Louis.
• Gardenhire said he's not sure Joe Mauer will be ready to catch a bullpen session Sunday, but the manager insisted he's not worried what day that happens. Mauer continues to put in long workouts at the Lee County Sports Complex, but he hasn't done any catching.
• Delmon Young might have some adjustments made to his shoes to help him get past his turf toe issue, Gardenhire said. The left fielder has been hitting in batting practice with authority but had a recent setback and hasn't been running.
• Francisco Liriano said his left shoulder felt normal Saturday, which was a good sign coming off his first spring start in a B game Friday against Tampa Bay. Liriano had some inflammation the shoulder before reporting to camp, but he hopes that's behind him.
• Anthony Slama has been dealing with an arm issue and hasn't pitched in a game since Monday, when he gave up two runs on four hits in an inning against Boston. Slama, who posted a 2.20 ERA in 54 relief appearances in Class AAA last season, is hoping to return to the mound soon.
• Twins catcher Jair Fernandez went to drink a cup of Gatorade before Saturday's game and got stung by a bee -- in his mouth. The bee had crawled into the cooler's spigot and landed in the cup before Fernandez took a drink. A trainer removed the stinger with a tweezers. Fernandez still caught two innings and singled in his only at-bat.
Brian Duensing pitches for the Twins, and Jeremy Guthrie pitches for Baltimore on Sunday in Fort Myers, Fla. The Twins also plan to give Rule 5 draft pick Scott Diamond a two-inning relief stint.
|Boston||8||Top 9th Inning|
|Oklahoma City||100||4th Qtr 4:15|
|Dallas||3||2nd OT :00|
|NY Islanders||4||3rd Prd 6:08|
|Vancouver||0||2nd Prd 11:10|
|Fla Gulf Coast||62|
|South Alabama||71||2nd Half 5:52|
|Alabama State||41||2nd Half 15:30|
|Alabama A&M||36||2nd Half 11:50|
|Sam Houston St||43||2nd Half 15:30|
|Central Arkansas||49||2nd Half 3:31|
|Portland State||51||2nd Half 0:40|
|Southern U||31||2nd Half|
|Alcorn State||40||2nd Half 14:30|
|Houston Baptist||58||2nd Half 5:58|
|Ark-Little Rock||53||2nd Half 5:28|
|SE Louisiana||45||2nd Half 15:07|
|Memphis||32||2nd Half 17:02|
|VA Commonwealth||23||2nd Half 18:56|
|Miss Valley St||0|
|Sacramento St||50||2nd Half 12:40|
|Northwestern St||34||2nd Half 20:00|
|Stephen F Austin||52|
|North Texas||34||2nd Half 13:17|
|Colorado||46||2nd Half 11:33|
|Idaho||37||2nd Half 15:33|
|Abilene Christian||19||2nd Half|
|Eastern Wash||55||2nd Half 13:00|
|Eastern Ill||24||2nd Half|
|Cal State Fullerton||5||1st Half 14:54|
|CS-Northridge||7||1st Half 12:47|
|Long Beach State||14|
|UC Riverside||12||1st Half 13:24|
|(18) Texas A&M||57|
|East Tenn St||73|
|Sam Houston St||73||FINAL|
|Stephen F Austin||56|
|Miss Valley St||0|
|(15) North Carolina||84|
|Presbyterian||54||2nd Half 2:53|
|Vanderbilt||47||2nd Half 7:12|
|Colorado||43||2nd Half 16:08|
|San Francisco||45||2nd Half 15:53|
|Idaho State||39||2nd Half 11:42|
|Weber State||24||2nd Half 15:10|
|Cal-Irvine||10||1st Half 12:48|
|Cal State Fullerton||14|
|Long Beach St||3||1st Half 15:50|
|Hawaii||10||1st Half 14:25|
|UC Santa Barbara||11|
|UC Davis||12||1st Half 11:31|
|Northern Ariz||15||1st Half 13:03|
|Southern Utah||4||1st Half 14:51|
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