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Minnesota Twins: Baker’s move to DL sets up early rotation

John Shipley, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn. –

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Scott Baker felt good about a four-inning start against Boston’s Class AAA team this morning, March 31, calling it a “step in the right direction.” Still, the Twins immediately placed him on the 15-day disabled list.

The move essentially guarantees an Opening Day roster spot for right-hander Liam Hendriks.

Already scratched from his April 9 start in the home opener because of an elbow strain, Baker said it’s too early to look beyond tomorrow much less talk about when his first regular-season start would be. He threw 60 pitches over four innings, allowing four hits, including a home run by Will Middlebrooks. He struck out two.

“I’m one day at a time. I’ve got to see how I feel tomorrow, if I feel good,” Baker said. “It’s a progression….We’re not going to even talk about a potential start or game with the team until I say that I’m major league-game ready and I’m comfortable with rejoining the team. It’s really hard to get that far out ahead of myself.”

Hendriks will likely start next Sunday in Baltimore, following right-hander Carl Pavano (Friday) and lefty Francisco Liriano (Saturday). Right-hander Nick Blackburn is scheduled to pitch the home opener April 9, with a spot-starter taking the second game of the Angels series, right-hander Anthony Swarzak or lefty Matt Maloney.

Baker has pitched only two games on the major league side. The team moved Saturday’s start to a minor league game so they could DL him retroactive to the day

after his last major league start, March 26.

“He was better today,” said general manager Terry Ryan, who evaluated Baker at Boston’s JetBlue Park. “His pitches were a little more crisp, but there’s still some work to do there, so we’re going to DL him. We’ll see what he feels like tomorrow.”

If Baker feels well enough, his next outing would be Thursday in a minor league setting. The big league club breaks camp on Wednesday.

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