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Updated: March 28th, 2012 4:53pm
Notebook: Twins preparing Plans B, C, D in case of pitching emergency

Notebook: Twins preparing Plans B, C, D in case of pitching emergency

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Minnesota Twins are in a tough spot with their starting rotation right now.

No, not tough because of its collective 4.64 ERA last season, although that's certainly a lingering concern as well.

A tough spot logistically, with Scott Baker working his way back from elbow tendonitis and Jason Marquis still in New York tending to his 7-year-old daughter, who was hospitalized after a serious bicycle incident.

Marquis has been away from the team for a week, and pitching coach Rick Anderson said the right-hander has been throwing bullpen sessions. But it's unclear when he'll rejoin the team.

Baker likely won't be ready to pitch in a regular season game until at least the second week of April.

With the status of Marquis and Baker up in the air, the Twins are in the process of stretching out Liam Hendriks, Anthony Swarzak and now left-hander Matt Maloney, who will start against the Pirates in Bradenton on Thursday.

"More than anything else just stretch him out and let him get pitching some innings and everything," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Our plans were a little different than that, but who knows right now?

"That's kind of everything we've been doing, is preparing ourselves. ... We're just still so uncertain right now."

Hendriks is stretched out to 75 or 80 pitches at the moment, so he would be the likely candidate to step into the rotation first. But Gardenhire wouldn't confirm that.

"We probably do know, but you won't know right now. We don't want to put anymore pressure on anybody than we have to."

Hendriks has faced "A" lineups in his past couple starts, and Swarzak went 3 2/3 innings on Tuesday.

Casilla quietly having healthy, productive spring

With a runner on first and one out in the top of the second inning, second baseman Alexi Casilla ranged far to his right up the middle to glove a groundball hit by John Mayberry, Jr., then made a back-handed glove flip to Jamey Carroll, who completed the 4-6-3 double play.

An impressive play by Casilla, who is quietly having a healthy, solid spring, hitting .300 despite going hitless on Wednesday.

Last season, Casilla got off to a brutal start in April, but turned into one of the Twins' most reliable hitters for much of May, June and July. But a lingering strained hamstring ended his season two months early.

And that's the main question with Casilla -- can he stay healthy for six months?

If so -- and that's a big if -- Casilla is confident he will have a productive season hitting in the eight-hole.

"My job is get on base," he said. "Get on base for those big guys. ...

"I love to hit second in the lineup, I love it. But I still feel like I'm hitting second. ... I think with Denard (Span) and Jamey first and second, and Ben (Revere) and me (at the bottom), I think we're going to score a lot of runs. It's going to be fun to watch."

Today's result

Twins 11, Phillies 7

Twins spring record: 15-12

Justin Morneau started the scoring barrage for the Twins with a towering home run to right field in the first inning off Vance Worley -- Morneau's third bomb this week. Morneau finished 3-for-3 with a home run, an infield single and a sharp, RBI single to right field.

• Pitching on their second day of back-to-back outings, Glen Perkins and Matt Capps each got roughed up. Perkins allowed three earned runs on three hits in one inning (two strikeouts), and Capps allowed a run on two hits (one strikeout).

Joe Mauer raised his spring batting average to .340 with three hits in four at-bats.

Francisco Liriano labored a bit through four-plus innings, but everyone seems comfortable with how the left-hander has thrown the ball this spring.

Numbers game

5: Home runs this spring for Luke Hughes, who put the Twins up 11-1 in the fourth inning with a three-run blast to left field. Hughes also played left field late in the game, as the Twins attempt to create as much versatility as possible.

$850,000: The amount of money the Twins owe Joel Zumaya.

Health report: Plouffe goes off in minor-league game

• Under the watch of manager Ron Gardenhire, hitting coach Joe Vavra and general manager Terry Ryan, Trevor Plouffe -- returning from a strained hamstring -- roped three home runs and a double as the DH in a Triple-A game against the Orioles. Plouffe remains firmly in the mix for the starting right field job.

• Marquis remains in New York tending to his daughter, who was hospitalized after a serious bicycle accident last week. His return to the club is a day-to-day situation.

Overheard

"Jesus, Plouffe, I still haven't seen if you can run. Keep one in the park."
-- Gardenhire, watching Plouffe's second home run ball, which cleared both fences on side field No. 3.

"All I wanted to do was watch him run the bases and all he did was trot."
-- Gardenhire, again talking about Plouffe.

On deck

Thursday: @ Pirates, 12:05 p.m. LHP Matt Maloney vs. RHP James McDonald
Friday: vs. Red Sox, 12:05 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn vs. TBA
Saturday: @ Blue Jays, 12:05 p.m. RHP Liam Hendriks vs. TBA

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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