Is transition to bullpen to blame for Slowey's injury?

Alex Burnett was called up to take Kevin Slowey's place on the active roster.

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Kevin Slowey in spring training.

Photo: Dave Martin, Associated Press - Ap

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The Twins counted on Kevin Slowey to boost their remodeled bullpen, but the righthander lasted only three appearances before coming down with arm trouble. Now he has landed on the 15-day disabled list.

The club hoped it could wait a few days for Slowey's soreness to subside, but it didn't want to be shorthanded in the bullpen, so it placed him on the DL Friday night because of bursitis -- inflammation in his shoulder -- and called up righthander Alex Burnett to replace him on the roster.

"The best thing to do is to give him time and get another pitcher in here," manager Ron Gardenhire said Saturday. "You can't go short too many days. We have a lot of games.'

"The MRI was perfect. He just has a little tendinitis."

Slowey entered spring training competing for a spot in the rotation, but the Twins announced March 22 that he would open the season in the bullpen, giving him more than a week to adapt to a relief role.

The obvious question is if Slowey came down with soreness because of the transition.

"I don't know. I'm certainly not a medical professional, so asking to figure out or extrapolate what caused it, I think, wouldn't be very fair for me to say what caused it," said Slowey, who has given up one run in 3 2/3 innings. "All I know is we got an MRI done and the doctors said they don't think it's anything serious. They do recommend taking some time and then going from there."

Gardenhire, however, indicated that Slowey might have failed to loosen up as much as he should have.

"That's something Slowey is going to have to learn, probably," Gardenhire said, "to warm up a little better and take it a little bit easier rather than try to rush. It's a learning experience."

Burnett gets the ball

Burnett faced one batter at Class AAA Rochester this year.

"Two pitches," he said with a chuckle. "I've thrown two pitches this season and I'm already here."

Burnett pitched in Saturday's 1-0 loss to Oakland, walking the only batter he faced. He was cut from major league camp March 19, before relievers such as Pat Neshek and Jim Hoey. Neshek went on to be claimed off waivers by San Diego.

Hoey also was considered to take Slowey's place, but Twins officials said Burnett was sharper during the final week of minor league spring training.

"Burnett is throwing the best, they said," Gardenhire said.

Burnett, who was 2-2 with a 5.29 ERA in 41 games as a Twins rookie last season, will help get the Twins through the sixth and seventh innings, leaving Matt Capps and Jose Mijares to hold down the eighth.

Cuddyer, 2B?

Indications are that Michael Cuddyer will start at second base Sunday when the Twins and A's wrap up their series at Target Field. Cuddyer has been taking grounders there after second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka suffered a broken leg Thursday in New York.

With Cuddyer at second, Gardenhire will be able to start Jason Kubel in right field and Jim Thome at designated hitter against Oakland righthander Brandon McCarthy.

Righthander Scott Baker will start for the Twins.

Etc.

• Longtime Twins bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek, who has had several surgeries on his right eye in recent months, is doing better after his latest procedure Thursday. He remains at his home in Chicago so he can be examined by the specialist who performed the last surgery, but there's optimism that he will join the team soon. Phil Roof is filling in as bullpen coach until Stelmaszek returns.

Stelmaszek missed all of spring training because of his eye problems. His offseason included cataract surgery, then three surgeries to reattach the retina.

• Before the game, Gardenhire was presented with his AL Manager of the Year Award for 2010.

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