A news flash out of Minnesota camp today that has Mariner reverberations: Scott Baker, who would have been the Twins’ Opening Day starter on Monday against Felix Hernandez, was placed on the disabled list with a stiff shoulder. That makes lefty Francisco Liriano, who was a sensation in 2006 (12-3, 2.16 ERA, 144 strikeouts in 121 innings) before major elbow surgery wiped out his entire 2007 season, the Opening Day starter against Seattle.
The other upshot is that knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, cut loose by the Mariners after last season, will likely take the fifth spot in the Twins’ rotation during Baker’s absence. The rest of Minnesota’s starters are righties Nick Blackburn and Kevin Slowey, and lefty Glen Perkins.
Good for Dickey, one of most personable guys you’ll ever meet.
The Twins have other health issues. First baseman Justin Morneau tweaked his back with a swing during batting practice Tuesday, and it’s been stiff for the past two days. But he told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, “It’s nothing I’m too concerned about. I just don’t want it to be something that nags on when the season starts. … If this was Game No. 1 or Game No. 100, I’m sure I’d be out there.”
Joe Mauer, their brilliant catcher, starts the year on the DL with a lower back issue. Infielder Brian Buscher went to the hospital with chest soreness earlier this week but was diagnosed with tenderness in his chest tissue, unrelated to his heart, which was a relief. And outfielder Delmon Young missed a couple of games with a sore shoulder but should be ready for the Mariners.
“Our health is not good right now,” Manager Ron Gardenhire said to the Star-Tribune. “Players are beat up a little bit. Hopefully we’ll start the season healthy.”