Twins righthander Carl Pavano has been pitching with a strained right shoulder since spring training and expects to take a cortisone shot for it in a week or so.
The soreness might explain his dip in velocity and lack of sharpness on some of his pitches. Pavano, 2-3 with a 5.02 ERA heading into a start on Monday against Cleveland, said he thought he could pitch through the discomfort when it first flared up but it never improved.
He had an MRI on Friday that showed no structural damage.
"It's just more like a strain so it is something that I can probably get through," Pavano said. "It hasn't gotten worse, it just hasn't gotten better."
He said he's going try a lot of stretching but added that he'll probably take a cortisone shot after his scheduled start Saturday in Milwaukee.
He admitted that he's been skipping some bullpen sessions and had a start pushed back three days, to May 4, in an effort to see if extra rest would work.
"But my stuff was consistent with where it's been all year in terms of velocity," Pavano said. "Going into my last start, my stuff was flat; there just wasn't much there."
According to www.fangraphs- .com, Pavano's fastball is averaging 86.6 miles an hour this season. Last year, it was 89.0.
The Twins stressed that there's nothing seriously wrong with Pavano.
"They are treating it and maybe he'll get that extension and get that [velocity] back," manager Ron Gardenhire said.
General Manager Terry Ryan said Pavano's issue is "not anything that is going to knock him out of a start. Any pitcher is going to have things that aren't going to feel right. He's fine. He's going to be starting."
Pavano said he will send copies of his MRI to Dr. David Altchek, the New York specialist who has treated him in the past.
Ready for anything
Gardenhire had lefthander Brian Duensing throw a season-high 45 pitches last Wednesday, just in case Pavano had a problem that would knock him out of the rotation.
It wasn't a stretch for the Twins to stretch Duensing.
Back in the bullpen this season after being in the rotation most of 2011, Duensing has been on a roll. He's thrown eight scoreless innings and has a 1.32 ERA over his past 11 games.
He's filled a variety of roles while doing so.
"Seventh-inning guy. Lefty specialist, if need be," Duensing said. "A possible long relief role. It's easier to say what I'm not. I'm not the closer."
Duensing has been able to smooth out his mechanics and get into a groove. That has encouraged him to throw harder. Being a reliever allows him to not hold back, and his fastball average of 92.7 mph is up from 91.3 last season.
He said he has not been told of any plans to make him a starter, but he's fine with being used in different roles. He's learned to come to the park each day prepared for anything.
"I like that they have confidence in me, that I'm being used," Duensing said.
• Matt Capps touched 94 mph on the radar gun Sunday but threw nothing but split-fingered fastballs to Kelly Johnson, eventually striking him out to end the game. It was his seventh save in as many chances.
• Opponents were in a 0-for-34 skid against Twins reliever Jared Burton before Rajai Davis led off the eighth with a single.