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Updated: April 11th, 2012 7:25pm
Notebook: Twins to stay in-house to replace Baker; rotation shaping up

Notebook: Twins to stay in-house to replace Baker; rotation shaping up

by Phil Mackey
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Following news of Scott Baker's season-ending surgery, general manager Terry Ryan said the Minnesota Twins will stay in-house to replace the void in the rotation.

"You're going to find a spot for (Jason) Marquis, and (Anthony) Swarzak threw the ball well, and the kid with food poisoning was one of our better performers in spring training," Ryan said. "OK, we've got something to work with there. Our big issue has not been pitching. We haven't hit too much. Our pitchers have done relatively decent job here.

"So let's give these guys a chance to settle in and see exactly what we've got in the rotation. It's not going to be easy to replace the guy that was going to be our home opening starter. But you get put in some situations and you've got to adjust, and that's one of the reasons why we've got a little bit more depth. We went out and signed plenty of pitchers just for the very reason, we were hurt so much last year."

The Twins initially placed Baker on the disabled list retroactive to March 27 so he could be available to start on Sunday -- the first day the Twins need a fifth starting pitcher.

Instead, it's likely Liam Hendriks will make his first start of the season on Sunday.

Hendriks was slated to start against the Baltimore Orioles last Sunday, but he came down with food poisoning. Instead, Anthony Swarzak started and allowed one run in five innings.

Swarzak will likely start again on Friday against the Texas Rangers before moving back to the bullpen to make room for Jason Marquis, who will start once more for Double-A New Britain on Thursday. If all goes well, Marquis could join the rotation next week.

"He worked pretty hard while he was away," Gardenhire said about Marquis, "and just looking at his outing that we saw (in Florida) and listening to what people said about his last outing (for New Britain), everything's going along really good."

Marquis was away from the team for two weeks tending to his 7-year-old daughter, whose life was in danger following a serious bicycle incident. Marquis described baseball as a reprieve mentally, and Gardenhire confirmed that the veteran right-hander is in a "really good spot mentally" right now.

"He's game-on," Gardenhire said. "If it were up to him he'd be pitching for us tomorrow, not down there, but we're trying to do the smart thing and let him get some innings underneath his belt, as you need in spring training, before we throw him into the hot box here. As he said, he's pitched 13 years. He knows when he's ready. But he also knows this is the right thing now."

Not only will the Twins need Marquis to be in a good spot mentally, but they also need him to eat innings and pitch effectively.

If everything goes well with Hendriks and Marquis this week, the Twins rotation over the next few days could look like this:

Thursday vs. Angels: Francisco Liriano
Friday vs. Rangers: Swarzak
Saturday vs. Rangers: Nick Blackburn
Sunday vs. Rangers: Hendriks
Monday @ Yankees: Carl Pavano
Tuesday @ Yankees: Liriano or Marquis

Waldrop progressing

Kyle Waldrop's bid for a 25-man roster spot ended the last week in March when the right-hander was shut down due to discomfort along the inside of his elbow.

Waldrop is going through his rehab process at Target Field, and on Wednesday he threw pain-free from 90 feet for the first time since being shut down.

The plan is for Waldrop to throw from 120 feet on Thursday, and if all goes well he will throw a bullpen session this weekend.

"I want to test it out," Waldrop said. "It felt great throwing from 90 feet, but that's only 75 or 80 percent."

Here we go again?

With Baker out for the season and Hendriks struck with food poisoning last week, is there a sense the Twins might be headed down the same injury road as last year?

Manager Ron Gardenhire doesn't believe so.

"Last year's gone. It's over with. I can't deal with last year. Scott has an arm injury. Unfortunately, in sports, injuries happen. Last year we got beat up pretty bad. But they do happen. They aren't ever going to stop.

"You try to prevent them as much as you can, but arm injuries are going to happen. Pulled hamstrings are going to happen. It's part of baseball. It's part of sports in general, every sport. ... Hopefully we'll be lucky enough not to have to deal with a lot of them."

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.
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