Nick Blackburn's season has been a disaster so far, but the Twins pitcher said he believes it'll turn around quickly if he can just stay healthy.
KANSAS CITY, MO. - Nick Blackburn's season has been a disaster so far, but the Twins pitcher said he believes it'll turn around quickly if he can just stay healthy. His next chance to prove himself comes Wednesday night against the Royals, as he makes his first start since May 16.
Blackburn went 1-4 with an 8.37 ERA in seven starts before landing on the disabled list because of a strained left quadriceps muscle. That injury derailed his past two starts, and before that, he'd dealt with right shoulder cramps and pain in his rib cage.
"Even though my season has been really brutal, confidence hasn't been the issue," Blackburn said. "I've just always been dealing with something. I'd have good bullpens and then gone into the game and something physically would kind of wear me down.
"I know my pitches are good enough. It's just a matter of going out there and doing it."
Blackburn made two rehab starts for Class AAA Rochester; those numbers weren't pretty either. He allowed four runs over 32/3 innings in the first game and one run over 21/3 innings Sunday in an outing shortened because of rain.
The Twins contemplated having him make another rehab start, but when Carl Pavano went on the disabled list, they needed someone to make Wednesday's start. Blackburn was able to play catch while he was on the DL, and he had a 90-pitch bullpen session before heading to Rochester, so the Twins aren't worried about arm strength.
"I think the most important thing we realized [in Rochester] is I'm healthy," Blackburn said. "I was able to work on some things with my delivery and ironed some things out. Hopefully I'll be able to get back on track like I was in spring training."Mauer update
Joe Mauer's sprained right thumb felt better Tuesday but was still a little sore, so he continued getting treatment but didn't swing a bat. The Twins plan to have Mauer rest through Thursday's off day and see how he is Friday, when they open a homestand against the Cubs.
In baseball's first All-Star voting update, Mauer ranked third among American League catchers, behind the Rangers' Mike Napoli and the Orioles' Matt Wieters. The totals: Napoli (1,224,565), Wieters (713,469) and Mauer (637,364).
No other Twin was listed among the leading vote-getters as his position.
Mauer was baseball's overall leading vote getter two years ago. This year, he's made 25 starts at catcher, 15 at DH and 11 at first base, and has posted an .826 OPS (on-base-plus-slugging percentage). The major league average OPS is .720.Plouffe's power burst
Trevor Plouffe entered Tuesday with a .718 OPS, up from .478 on May 2. He's been walking less and striking out more, but he'd homered in six of his previous 13 games.
"It's all about run production for him," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He needs to drive in some runs, and he's getting better and better as we go along here. I think he's learning a lot. He's gotta cut down on his strikeouts. He's been very good about taking walks, and I like the route that he's going. I think he's on the way up."
|Baltimore - K. Gausman||6:07 PM|
|Toronto - B. Morrow|
|Minnesota - S. Diamond||6:08 PM|
|Detroit - R. Porcello|
|Cleveland - Z. McAllister||6:10 PM|
|Boston - R. Dempster|
|LA Angels - J. Blanton||7:10 PM|
|Kansas City - E. Santana|
|San Jose||9:30 PM|
Poll: Who should be the next Twins starting pitcher to lose his job?