Scott Baker has been slowed by a tender elbow and will have to prove his fitness in a bullpen session on Friday.
The Twins righthander had trouble getting loose Saturday before an appearance in a B game against Pittsburgh and struggled in his outing. One scout at the game had his fastball as low as 84 miles per hour with no movement. It was after the outing when Baker indicated that his elbow was tender.
Baker has had elbow problems in each of the past two seasons -- and began the 2009 season on the disabled list with a sore shoulder
"I'm not worried about Baker," Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said. "[Friday] will be indicative of where we are headed. It's not like this hasn't happened before."
If all goes well, Baker will return to the rotation.
Baker is a key member of the rotation but has pitched only 1342/3 and 1701/3 innings over the past two seasons. He reported to camp this year in his usual excellent shape and said he had no worries about his health.
Righthanders Deolis Guerra and Lester Oliveros, lefthanders Scott Diamond and Tyler Robertson and outfielder Darin Mastroianni were optioned to Class AAA Rochester. Outfielder Oswaldo Arcia was optioned to Class A Fort Myers. Lefthander Aaron Thompson, infielder Steve Pearce and catcher Danny Rams were reassigned to minor league camp.
The cuts put the Twins spring training roster at 57 players -- still more players than some camps in past years started with.
There should be more cuts by the middle of next week. But first the Twins need to get through two games Friday, a long trip to Jupiter, Fla., on Saturday and a B game before the regularly scheduled game Sunday.
For relief pitchers such as Jared Burton, Carlos Gutierrez, Matt Maloney and Kyle Waldrop -- who have all pitched well thus far -- it will be a chance for them to pitch against better competition and regulars and stay in games longer.
In order words, a chance to pitch against fewer No. 85s and more No. 25s.
"People have started to go across the street,'' Ryan said, referring to minor league camp. "Things start to change when you get to the mid-to-late part of March and we need to see some productivity. This is the time of spring where every inning and every opportunity and every viewing is going to be huge."
• Infielder Jamey Carroll went 0-for-4 Thursday and is 1-for-21 in spring training games.
• Twins owner Jim Pohlad attended Thursday's game.
The Twins have games at 12:05 p.m. and 6:05 p.m. Central time on Friday, both in Fort Myers. Nick Blackburn will start at home against Baltimore while Liam Hendriks will start at Boston. Only the noon game will be available on the Twins radio network.
LA VELLE E. NEAL III