La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Twins postgame: Pitching concerns, pitching concerns, pitching concerns

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: March 28, 2012 - 5:33 PM

The Twins won 11-7 on Wednesday but most of the day was spent talking about  the state of Twins pitching.

Because of concerns about Scott Baker and Jason Marquis not being ready to start the season, the Twins are working on contingency plans.

Righthander Anthony Swarzak pitched 32/3 innings on Tuesday at Baltimore. Lefthander Matt Maloney, who has thrown two innings in each of his last three outings, will start on Thursday against Pittsburgh. Righthander Liam Hendriks can throw 70-80 pitches right now if needed to start.

"Everything we've been doing is preparing ourselves,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "You never know how you are going to start and you never know what's going to happen. That's preparing ourselves with Hendriks and Swarzy and Maloney stretching out brecause we are so uncertain right now.''

Baker missed a few outings because of a sore elbow. The club was concerned on Monday when he looked like he wasn't throwing as hard as they expected while giving up seven runs to the Rays.
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Marquis left camp on March 21st to return to his home in Staten Island, N.Y. after his seven-year old daughter, Reese, was seriously injured in a bicycle accident. On Thursday, Marquis will miss his second straight scheduled start.
He's tried to throw simulated games while at home, but the Twins, who want him to stay with his family as long as he needs, nevertheless anticiapte that he will need more time to prepare for the season once he returns.
 

WALDROP INJURED

Righthander Kyle Waldrop has a sore elbow, which has jeopardized his chances to win a spot in the Twins bullpen.
Waldrop has not appeared in a game since last Friday, when he tossed a scoreless inning against the Yankees and experienced soreness afterward. A MRI taken on Sunday revealed no serious damage, just inflammation.

Indications are that Waldrop will try to throw on Thursday, but with a week left in camp the Twins are concerned that he will be unable to prove he's ready in time for the Apr. 6 opener in Baltimore against the Orioles
It's potentially a tough break for Waldrop, who has a 1.50 ERA through six outings. The Twins were warming to the idea of him entering games and using his sinker to get ground ball outs.

Now it appears that the last spot in the Twins bullpen will come down to righthander Jeff Gray and righthander Alex Burnett. Gray, who is out of options, has a 1.93 ERA this spring. Burnett gave up a solo homer to Hector Luna on Wednesday, raising his spring ERA to 7.88.

Righthanders Swarzak, Matt Capps and Jared Burton and lefthanders Maloney, Glen Perkins and Brian Duensing look to be the bullpen.

Swarzak and Maloney, however, could be needed to make spot starts. Burnett could make the club then.

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