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Updated: July 19th, 2010 11:33pm
It's Slama time: Twins select reliever's contract, option Alex Burnett

It's Slama time: Twins select reliever's contract, option Alex Burnett

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Anthony Slama is going to get his shot with the Minnesota Twins. Finally.

The Twins selected the 26-year-old reliever's contract after Monday's loss to Cleveland, optioned Alex Burnett to Class-AAA Rochester and placed Clay Condrey (elbow) on the 60-day disabled list to make room for Slama on the 40-man roster.

"He'll be ready to throw," said manager Ron Gardenhire, who had made clear for weeks he wanted to give Slama a shot.

"I know he's been throwing a lot down there. We'll just mix him in whenever we can, get him in there and let him go."

A 39th-round pick in the 2006 amateur draft, Slama started in the Twins' system the following summer and moved up to Class-AAA Rochester last year. The right-hander allowed a run on four hits in 1 1/3 innings on Monday, increasing his earned-run average to 1.71 for the season with 64 strikeouts and 24 walks in 52 2/3 innings.

Slama will join the team in time for Tuesday's game, and the Twins need him. They used five relievers on Monday -- one of whom, closer Jon Rauch, probably will be unavailable for the rest of the series after taking a line drive off one of his ankles.

Burnett was the logical candidate to be demoted even before he gave up singles to the only two hitters he faced on Monday.

"We were probably going to do it no matter what," Gardenhire said. "The only big concern was Rauch -- Rauch and his ankle, which way we go. ... But the doctors said they didn't see a break back there -- just a big swollen ankle and he'll be sore for a day or two, so I think we can get through it."

Gardenhire made a point to praise Burnett, who was off to a good start before his recent struggles -- 12 earned runs on 21 hits in just 9 2/3 innings (11.17 ERA) over his past 12 appearances.

"Slama's been throwing fine, so we'll get him up here to help us out in the bullpen," Gardenhire said. "'Burny' needs to go stretch out a little bit down there and start using all of his pitches. He's going through a little rough patch, but we really like this young man. He's going to be a very good pitcher for a long time here."

Starting pitcher Scott Baker allowed six runs on 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings on Monday, but Gardenhire said the right-hander felt "great" physically and had no setbacks with his tender throwing elbow.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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