Twins pitcher Nick Blackburn will have his right elbow examined this week and could be facing arthroscopic surgery, General Manager Terry Ryan said Tuesday.
Blackburn was taken off the 40-man roster after going 4-9 with a 7.39 ERA in 19 starts for the Twins. He's under contract for $5.5 million next year, and the team plans to bring him to spring training as a minor-league invitee.
Blackburn, 30, had arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow in October 2010 and returned to go 7-10 with a 4.49 ERA in 2011.
Hoping Baker re-signs
The Twins likely will decline Scott Baker's $9.25 million option for next season, making him a free agent, but the two sides still could come together on an incentive-based deal.
"We'd like to have Scott back," Ryan said.
A decision on the option is due within a few days of the World Series ending.
Gibson keeps thriving
Pitching on his 25th birthday, Kyle Gibson tossed three shutout innings in his third Arizona Fall League start, though he did have to labor a bit, giving up three hits and two walks with three strikeouts in 57 pitches.
Gibson is 3-0 with a 0.69 ERA thus far with 19 strikeouts and two walks and in the prospect-rich AFL, which is typically a hitter friendly league. He had Tommy John ligament-replacement surgery in his right elbow on Sept. 7, 2011, so the Twins plan to be cautious with him next year.
In an interview with ESPN 1500, Ryan said the Twins might have Gibson start out in the bullpen before moving to the rotation and drew a comparison to the way Atlanta brought Kris Medlen back from the same surgery.
Later, Ryan said Gibson first has to prove he can make the big league team, and for now the Twins are just concerned about getting him through the Fall League healthy.
"I put that example out there because it worked tremendously for Atlanta," Ryan said of Medlen, who went 10-1 with a 1.57 ERA in 138 innings. "I don't want to pretend it could be that type of scenario [for Gibson], but that was an ideal approach, and I certainly noticed."
Gibson's teammate with the Peoria Javelinas, Twins catcher Chris Herrmann, hurt his left shoulder on a swing, but Ryan is hopeful that he'll be able to return to action soon. In the meantime, the Twins sent catcher Daniel Rohlfing to take his place.
Herrmann, 25, appeared in seven late-season games for the Twins, going 1-for-18. In three games for Peoria, he went 5-for-10.