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Updated: May 23rd, 2011 5:37pm
MRI shows no damage for Slowey, who is likely Triple-A bound

MRI shows no damage for Slowey, who is likely Triple-A bound

by Phil Mackey
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Twins right-hander Kevin Slowey could soon be back in his familiar role as a starting pitcher.

In Rochester.

An MRI on Slowey's abdomen came out negative on Monday, showing no inflammation and no tear, meaning the right-hander is cleared to pitch.

But after meeting with each other over the weekend, Slowey and manager Ron Gardenhire have decided it's in everybody's best interest to end the bullpen experiment.

Which means Slowey could be headed to Triple-A Rochester in the very near future. A trade isn't out of the question either.

"He basically told us he really can't do this out of the 'pen, so now we've got to find another way, whether it's Trile-A or whatever," Gardenhire said prior to Monday's game against the Seattle Mariners. "That's our only option is to send him down and let him start."

"That's what we're going to talk about, talk with Kevin and talk with Billy (Smith, the Twins general manager) now and go from there. If he's able to pitch, we'll get him pitching."

Slowey, who was unavailable for Monday night's game, has appeared in six games for the Twins, posting a 4.91 ERA with seven strikeouts and one walk in 14 2/3 innings.

After losing out on the fifth starter spot near the end of spring training, Slowey began his transition to the bullpen. Gardenhire initially envisioned Slowey tackling meaningful situations in the seventh and eighth innings, along with Jose Mijares, but that plan went awry when Slowey landed on the disabled list in early April with shoulder bursitis. The right-hander had also complained about abdomen discomfort in recent days.

The Twins have now been forced into a difficult position.

"We're going to get him in a situation where he can start," Gardenhire said. "That's how he needs to prepare to pitch, and he's tried to get loose out there, it hasn't worked out. In different ways. I can't tell a guy two innings before he's going to pitch that, 'you're probably going to pitch.' It just doesn't work that way in the bullpen. If you can't get up and get ready, if you need more than three outs to prepare for that, it's really hard to figure out situations.

"So the right thing to do is get him starting, and that's what we're going to try to do.

"I think that's what Kevin needs, what Kevin wants, and it's the right thing for him to help him get him more pitching. He needs to pitch."

Phil Mackey is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd