Bonser odd man out when Baker returns
Injured starter likely to replace struggling righty in rotation
KANSAS CITY -- Right-hander Scott Baker could be ready to return to the Twins rotation in nine days. When he does, it appears that Boof Bonser will be the pitcher who is out of a starting job.Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said on Tuesday that the club has altered its scheduled pitching rotation following Monday's off-day, flip-flopping Bonser and Glen Perkins. Perkins will remain on his regular five-day schedule and start on Friday against the Yankees. Bonser will then be pushed back to Saturday. Moving Bonser's start to Saturday will place him on the same schedule as Baker, who is scheduled to make his next rehab start for Class A Fort Myers on Saturday. "We'll keep Perkins on his five and move the other guy who has been struggling a little bit," Gardenhire said. "If it sets up perfect that way [for a possible move], then it sets up perfect." Gardenhire didn't want to discuss the possibility of Baker taking Bonser's spot in the rotation. But of all the Twins' current starters, Bonser clearly has found the most trouble lately. In five May starts, Bonser is 0-2 with a 9.59 ERA. He has been especially weak early in games. Bonser has given up a total of 16 runs and four homers during the first inning in his 11 starts this season. The feeling within the organization is that a move could help Bonser get back on track. Upon Baker's return, Bonser will likely be shifted into the Twins' bullpen. Bonser is out of options so he will not be sent down to the Minors. Bonser will have the one last start on Saturday against the Yankees to demonstrate that he's made changes, but it doesn't appear that it will impact the team's current inclination to move him to the bullpen. The situation could change depending on how Baker fares with his strained right groin muscle in his next start, but the expectation is that it will not. Baker, who is 2-0 in six starts this season, felt fine on Monday when he pitched five innings in extended spring action. The session went so well that the decision was made to have Baker start in a game for Fort Myers on Saturday. He will be allowed to reach a pitch count somewhere between 70-85 pitches. "He'll probably join us after that, if everything continues on the same path," Gardenhire said.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.