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Updated: August 8th, 2011 9:57pm
Scott Baker still having troubles with elbow; DL stint coming?

Scott Baker still having troubles with elbow; DL stint coming?

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Twins right-hander Scott Baker appeared to be cruising on Monday night until giving up a four-spot in the sixth inning to a potent Boston Red Sox lineup.

As it turns out, he was grinding.

Baker said after the game he is still experiencing discomfort in his right elbow -- the same discomfort that landed him on the disabled list briefly in July.

"It's really just kind of lingered for a while, and it takes a lot of work to get loose," Baker said after the game.

"I guess there's never an ideal time for this. It's never easy. But you don't want to be that guy that has to go on the DL, if that's the decision that they make. But you've go to do what's best for the team, and for yourself individually."

Over his last two starts, Baker has allowed eight earned runs in nine innings (8.00 ERA). In seven starts prior to that, Baker had allowed only seven earned runs in his previous seven starts (1.31 ERA).

Along with having a difficult time getting loose and staying loose, Baker said he feels like his pitches are suffering as well.

According to Pitch F/X data, Baker's average sinking fastball clocked in at 89 mph on Monday night -- a bit slower than in late June when his average heater was clocked at 92 mph.

"You have to be at the top, physically, and right now it's tough," said Baker, who also had offseason cleanup surgery on the same elbow. "It's tough getting the work in between (starts), and obviously we've got to talk about it (Tuesday), and whatever they want to do... But you really have to be, physically, 100% to compete. At least I do. I'm going out there and giving it everything I've got. ...

"I'm OK with it being a little sore, but if you're not effective because of it, then that's a different story. So we've got some things to talk through and work through, and I guess we'll have to make a decision."

Baker will visit with doctors on Tuesday to determine the next step.

"It's something that we have to talk about further. I'm OK with discomfort, as long as I'm not going to hurt myself any further. I can deal with that. ... But at the same time, you've got to be smart about it."

He added, "I'd like to continue to pitch. I think we've always been pretty conservative here, as far as injuries and guys getting hurt, which is fine. I think that's looking out for the best interest of the player. But we'll just have to see."

Should the Twins need to replace Baker in the starting rotation, it's likely Anthony Swarzak would step in. Manager Ron Gardenhire said Sunday that Kevin Slowey could also be an option if the Twins need a starter.

To make matters worse, the team is awaiting word on the fate of right-handers Kyle Gibson and Anthony Slama -- both of whom visited with doctors in Minneapolis Monday to discuss elbow discomfort.

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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