MINNEAPOLIS -- Francisco Liriano has been dealing with a little bit of dead arm in recent weeks and so when the Twins were provided an opportunity to give him a few extra days of rest between starts, they took it.After Kevin Slowey was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right triceps muscle, the Twins have shuffled their rotation slightly. Right-hander Nick Blackburn was called up from Triple-A Rochester to replace the injured Slowey in the rotation. But with Blackburn already on schedule to start Monday, the Twins decided to keep Blackburn in line for his start, when Liriano was originally slotted to face the Rangers, and they pushed back the left-hander to start Thursday's contest against Texas. Gardenhire said the Twins had originally planned for Liriano not to throw a bullpen session in between his starts, but now he'll throw a light side session with pitching coach Rick Anderson on Monday in Texas. "This is actually good," Gardenhire said. "We talked to Liriano, and he likes the idea too." Carl Pavano and Brian Duensing will remain on their regular rest, pitching the middle two contests of the four-game series against the Rangers on Tuesday and Wednesday. Gardenhire said the team discussed the possibility of pushing every starter back just a day, but the other starters felt they didn't really need the rest while Liriano could use the extra days. "I think he threw 50 or 60 innings between [winter ball and Spring Training]," Gardenhire said. "That's a lot of extra innings. This is the time of the year [for] a little bit of dead arm, the whole package. So we'll give him that extra three days here and it really is a nice fit." Blackburn is scheduled to meet the team in Texas.
Gardenhire explores bullpen options
MINNEAPOLIS -- With Ron Mahay on the 15-day disabled list due to a strained right shoulder and Glen Perkins having thrown two innings in Saturday's loss to the Angels, the Twins were without an available left-hander in their bullpen for Sunday's contest.Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was asked if there is a certain reliever he'll turn to in situations where he'd normally call on a lefty specialist. He mentioned the team will likely turn to its primary setup options -- Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain and Jon Rauch -- for the late innings and will try as best he can with matchups. "We know our guys that are getting people out," Gardenhire said. "They might have to face a guy that they don't have good numbers against. But teams go without lefties. The Angels, the only lefty in their bullpen is a closer. They've done that a lot of times in the past and there have been other teams too. "If you have that luxury and you have lefties that are good and can get people out, great. But you don't always have to have them." While Perkins isn't available in the lefty specialist role on Sunday, it is a role that he'll now be filling for the Twins. It's not one that Perkins seems perfectly suited for since he has generally fared better against right-handers in his career than lefties (.287 batting average against vs. righties and .325 vs. lefties), but as the only lefty in the 'pen, the Twins will need him to get left-handers out. "That's kind of what his role will be now that the other guys are out," Gardenhire said. "We've had him in this long role, but he's going to have to be used that way and he's going to have to spin the ball." Right-hander Anthony Slama was scheduled to join the Twins before Sunday's contest, giving them an extra reliever.
Twins set to travel to play Central foes
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins have three road trips left this season, but the only one that will feature opponents outside of the American League Central is the team's seven-game trip to Texas and Seattle this week.The Twins entered Sunday with a 16-6 record against the AL West, but Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he's happy that in September, the road trips will all be within his AL Central. "I do like that," Gardenhire said. "I'd rather be playing inside our division. That's where you have a chance to make up ground or distance yourself inside the division. When playing other divisions, you never know what luck of the draw you are going to get out of it. Inside your division, you are familiar with it." The Twins have also proven to be successful against their AL Central foes so far this season as well, holding a 33-18 record within their own division.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire gave shortstop J.J. Hardy a day off on Sunday and started Alexi Casilla in his place. Gardenhire said he plans to give Hardy the occasional day off after playing a couple days due to the soreness that Hardy has been battling in his left wrist. ... Jason Repko got the start in center field in place of Denard Span for Sunday's finale. Gardenhire said the move was just to give Span a day of rest and that right-handers were hitting better off Angels starter Jered Weaver with a .236 average vs. lefties, who have a .208 average. ... Class A Fort Myers infielder Nick Romero has been named the Twins' Minor League Player of the Week ending Aug. 20. Romero, 23, batted .355 (11-for-31) with four doubles and five RBIs in eight games for the Miracle last week.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.