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Updated: March 29th, 2012 3:47pm
Notebook: Twins considering options with Marquis; 12 pitchers likely

Notebook: Twins considering options with Marquis; 12 pitchers likely

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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BRADENTON, Fla. -- Jason Marquis' absence from the Minnesota Twins is still a day-to-day situation as he continues to monitor the progress of his 7-year-old daughter, who was involved in a bicycle accident more than a week ago.

Marquis has been throwing bullpen sessions and pitching in intersquad games against high school players in New York, but it's unknown if he'll be able to make his first regular season start.

"He needs to take care of his family and get all that stuff straightened out and we'll get him back down here and see where we're at," Gardenhire said. "But throwing up there to high school kids is not the same as throwing down here. So we're going to have to be careful with this. He's going to want to push it, and he thinks he's ready to go right into it.

"We're going to have to sit down with him, and hopefully that will be soon. Hopefully everything goes great with the kid. Then we'll find out more about where we are."

One of the options could be placing Marquis on the bereavement list, which extends a minimum of three days and maximum of seven.

"He's not hurt," general manager Terry Ryan said. "You can't DL a guy who's not hurt. This is the primary example of why that rule (bereavement) is in place. ... It's a good rule. ...

"Once he gets everything under control up there, I'm sure he'll be down here. But you know how sensitive that is. We're going to give him ample opportunity to take care of everything up there."

If Marquis is unable to make his first start of the regular season, the Twins are in the process of stretching out Liam Hendriks, Anthony Swarzak and Matt Maloney.

Twins will keep 12 pitchers even if fifth starter isn't needed

Because of the uncertainty surrounding Marquis, and also the uncertainty of Scott Baker's elbow, the Twins will carry 12 pitchers to start the season as initially planned, Ryan said, even if only four starters are needed early on.

"We've got a couple, three or four guys on this staff right now that certainly can pitch multiple innings," Ryan said. "So if (Gardenhire) wants to go with four (starters) -- because with the off day -- he can do that. If he wants to stay with five we probably could do that. Hendriks is stretched out, Swarzak's been stretched out. We're going to pitch Maloney today and get him stretched out. We're somewhat lucky here that we have a number of those types of guys that have put themselves in a decent spot."

The Twins play four games to start the season, then have an off day on April 10. They don't necessarily need a fifth starter until April 15. In theory, they could keep 11 pitchers and add an extra bench bat instead. But Ryan and Gardenhire prefer the extra pitching depth.

Twins 'concerned' about Waldrop's elbow

Ryan said Thursday that right-hander Kyle Waldrop likely did enough this spring to earn a 25-man roster spot out of camp.

But that almost certainly won't happen now that Waldrop has been temporarily shut down with right elbow discomfort.

"We're a little concerned about him," Ryan said, adding, "This guy hadn't been hurt in a number of years."

Waldrop has perhaps the best sinking fastball out of the Twins' current bullpen options, as evidenced by the 62% groundball rate he has been able to maintain in the minor leagues over the past two years.

If the Twins keep seven relievers, the final slot is likely to come down to right-handers Jeff Gray and Alex Burnett. If they keep eight, both could make the team.

Today's result

Twins 11, Pirates 6

Twins' spring record: 16-12

• Maloney allowed one earned run on four hits and a walk while striking out two in three innings. Maloney's start came as part of the Twins' plan to stretch pitchers out in case Marquis and/or Baker can't go.

• SS Brian Dozier went 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs. LF Brian Dinkelman went 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs.

Health report

• 3B Danny Valencia was plunked in the back of the helmet by a James McDonald fastball in the third inning. After being tended to by the trainer and Gardenhire, he stayed in the game and slowly walked to first base. "It hit me from the neck into the helmet," Valencia said. "But I think I'll survive."

• Santana dislocated his pinky finger sliding into second base in the ninth inning. Catcher J.R. Towles was summoned from the bullpen to pinch run for him.

• 2B Alexi Casilla was scratched from Thursday's lineup with some tightness behind his right knee. This was considered purely a precautionary move.

• After hitting three home runs as DH in a minor league game Wednesday, Trevor Plouffe (hamstring) was scheduled to play outfield in a minor league game on Thursday. If all goes well, he will play right field in the Twins' Grapefruit League game against the Red Sox. Gardenhire said Plouffe will also get a start at shortstop before the spring schedule is over.

• RHP Scott Baker's next start will come in a minor league game on Saturday, as he continues to work his way back from elbow tendonitis. By starting Baker in a minor league game, the Twins leave open the possibility of placing him on the DL retroactive to his last Grapefruit League start (Monday). He would then be eligible to come off the DL in time to make a regular-season start in the first home series against the Angels.

Numbers game

.273: Drew Butera's spring batting average after going 1-for-4 on Thursday. Gardenhire said no decision has been made about keeping two catchers or three.

2: Minor leaguers in the Twins starting lineup -- second baseman Daniel Santana and right fielder Angel Morales. Santana went 2-for-5 with a double and a walk. Morales singled twice and walked twice in five plate appearances.

2: Stolen bases for Ben Revere on Thursday, upping his total to five for the spring.

20: Walks and hits combined against Alex Burnett in nine innings pitched so far this spring. "He just can't seem to get through a clean inning. He gets behind," Gardenhire said. "He's just getting behind. You can't get behind in this league. These guys can hit. They can all hit fastballs." When asked if Burnett still had a chance to impress coaches, Gardenhire added, "Yeah, three weeks ago. ... We'll figure it out. It's not good though. He's got to be better than that."

Overheard

"I like it. You get to see all the towns in Florida. It's beautiful out here. It's great."
-- Valencia, somewhat sarcastically, when asked if he has enjoyed going on almost every road trip this spring so far.

On deck

Friday (SS): vs. Red Sox, 12:05 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn vs. RHP Daniel Bard
Friday (SS): @ Blue Jays, 12:05 p.m. RHP Liam Hendriks vs. LHP Aaron Laffey
Saturday: vs. Pirates, 12:05 p.m. RHP Anthony Swarzak vs. TBA
Sunday: @ Red Sox, 12:35 p.m. RHP Carl Pavano vs. TBA
Monday: @ Rays, 12:05 p.m. LHP Francisco Liriano vs. LHP David Price

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