Baker hit hard in return to mound
FORT MYERS, FLA. - Scott Baker made his first appearance in a spring training game since March 7, going 22/3 innings Monday against the Tampa Bay Rays at Hammond Stadium.
The righthander has been slowed by a sore elbow, so he was pleased to get the work in.
But it wasn't pretty. Baker gave up seven earned runs on seven hits, including a grand slam to Ben Zobrist, as the Rays won 10-4. The velocity on Baker's fastball was mostly 84 to 88 miles per hour, down some 4 to 8 mph.
"Unfortunately, I didn't make pitches when I needed to," Baker said. "Six runs with two outs ... just a couple pitches away from having a game totally different. I was just forcing it, the ball was up. But at the end of the day, as long as I'm healthy and getting enough repetitions in, all of that will come tomorrow."
Manager Ron Gardenhire and General Manager Terry Ryan both can't wait for Baker's next outing. They want to see him throw harder and with better results before they agree to let him start the home opener against the Los Angeles Angels on April 9.
"He says his arm's fine, everything's good. Well then let's go," Gardenhire said. "Get on the ball, throw the ball. That's all I want to see from here on out. That was too long of a three innings."
Ryan was asked if it looked as if Baker was holding back.
"Yeah, I would say that's accurate, and I'm not sure why," Ryan said. "If he's not hurt then he ought to let it go."
Baker, who threw 51 pitches Monday, has one more scheduled start before the end of camp and could build himself up to throw around 70 pitches. Or the Twins might skip him in the rotation because, due to off days, they really don't need five starters until April 15.
Marquis still away
Righthander Jason Marquis will continue to miss time with the Twins while he remains in New York to take care of a family emergency.
Marquis' 7-year-old daughter suffered serious injuries during a bicycle accident last week. He has been working out near his home in Staten Island to keep in shape and threw a bullpen session over the weekend.
• Outfielder Trevor Plouffe, out for more than a week because of a sore right hamstring, worked out before the game against the Rays and is set to play in a minor league game on Wednesday.
• Infielder Sean Burroughs left the game in the sixth inning after being hit by a pitch in the left forearm, but he should be fine. The Twins aren't even bothering to have him undergo an X-ray.
• Outfielder Josh Willingham was a late scratch from the starting lineup when he tweaked a sore right ankle. Ben Revere replaced him in left field.
Righthander Anthony Swarzak will face lefthander Tsuyoshi Wada on Tuesday when the Twins travel to Sarasota to face the Baltimore Orioles. Swarzak is pitching in Carl Pavano's spot in the rotation, but Pavano will pitch in a minor league game because the veteran is scheduled to pitch at Baltimore on Opening Day on April 6.
LA VELLE E. NEAL III