MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire confirmed on Friday that veteran right-hander Carl Pavano is slated to be the club's Opening Day starter on April 6, when the Twins play the Orioles at Camden Yards.
Gardenhire also said that if the rotation goes as currently planned, right-hander Scott Baker will be the club's starter in the home opener against the Angels on April 9 at Target Field.
Gardenhire said that he didn't even make the decision to go with Pavano on Opening Day, as it was pitching coach Rick Anderson who called him to make the decision.
Pavano, who along with Gardenhire was at the team's annual media luncheon Friday, said he's honored to make his second straight Opening Day start with the club, but joked that he heard about the decision through the media instead of from Gardenhire, who first told fans about the decision during a stop on Twins Caravan earlier this week.
Pavano, 36, posted a 4.30 ERA with 102 strikeouts and 40 walks allowed in 222 innings last year.
Blackburn, Baker plan to hit ground running
MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins right-handers Nick Blackburn and Scott Baker said during TwinsFest that they're both healthy and on track to be ready to go once pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on Feb. 18.Blackburn underwent surgery on Oct. 1 to decompress the radial nerve in his right forearm after being diagnosed with Radial Tunnel Syndrome. The surgery essentially loosened up an inflamed nerve that was causing discomfort in his forearm. He said he had to wear a cast for 11 days after the surgery, but that rehab went well and that he started his throwing program right on schedule shortly after Christmas. "I've been throwing typical bullpens and all that stuff," Blackburn said. "Like I said, everything's felt fine, so I can't imagine, unless we run into whatever, which is always possible. I think I'm on track." Baker, meanwhile, was placed on the disabled list twice in the second half of the season because of a right elbow strain. He tossed just 24 innings after the All-Star break, but made two relief appearances in the last week of the season. He said he began his throwing program around Jan. 1, and he expects to be ready to go without any problems once Spring Training starts. He also said he was happy to hear from Twins manager Ron Gardenhire earlier in the day that he's currently slated to start the club's home opener against the Angels on April 9 at Target Field. "He mentioned that to me just a little while ago, which is great," Baker said. "Carl [Pavano] obviously deserves to be the Opening Day starter. He's been very good for us the last couple years, no doubt about that. But I'm not going to lie, when you start the home opener, it's just an excitement that you don't get even on Opening Day on the road. It's really cool. It was a really cool experience. I'm excited to be able to experience that for myself."
Pascual elected to Twins Hall of Fame
MINNEAPOLIS -- Former Twins right-hander Camilo Pascual was elected as the lone inductee into the Twins Hall of Fame this year, club president Dave St. Peter announced Friday.
Pascual, a five-time All-Star over an 18-year career, is set to be inducted as the Hall's 24th member during a special pregame ceremony on July 14, when the Twins host the Oakland Athletics at Target Field. The Twins Hall of Fame was established in 2000.
The 78-year-old pitched with the Washington Senators from 1954-60 before the Twins moved to Minneapolis in 1961, and remained with the club until 1966. He retired after the 1971 season after also pitching with the second Washington Senators franchise, the Reds, the Dodgers and Indians.
Pascual, known for his devastating curveball, finished his career with a 174 wins, 2,167 strikeouts and 3.63 ERA in 2,930 2/3 innings. While with the Senators and Twins, Pascual won 145 games, posted a 3.66 ERA and struck out 1,885 batters in 2,465 innings.
A native of Cuba, Pascual led the American League in strikeouts three times ('61-63) while also leading the league in shutouts three times ('59, '61-62) and complete games three times ('59, '62-63).
He was elected to the Twins Hall of Fame by a 55-member committee consisting of local and national media, club officials, fans and past elected members, using rules similar to those necessary for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. Pascual was the top vote-getter, followed by Chuck Knoblauch, Eddie Guardado and Dan Gladden.
Statue honoring Hrbek to be unveiled in 2012
MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins president Dave St. Peter made a slew of announcements during a media luncheon on Friday, including the decision to honor Kent Hrbek with a statue outside of Gate 14 at Target Field.
Hrbek, a native of Bloomington, played his entire 14-year career with the Twins from 1981-94. Hrbek, 51, won titles with the Twins in '87 and '91, and was also named an All-Star in '82.
Hrbek will be the eighth person associated with the Twins to have a statue outside of the stadium. The others are of Kirby Puckett, Rod Carew, Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva, former owner Calvin Griffith and former owner Carl Pohlad and his wife Eloise Pohlad.
St. Peter said a decision has not yet been finalized on what the Hrbek's pose will be in the statue.
Among other announcements during the luncheon, St. Peter said that the batter's eye in center field will remain unchanged from last year. The club removed spruce trees in center field before last season because of complaints that they were distracting.
Additionally, St. Peter confirmed the club placed a bid to host the 2014 All-Star Game at Target Field, but won't hear an official decision until April.
The Twins also placed a bid to host the 2013 Big Ten baseball championships at Target Field, and are also trying to host the NHL Winter Classic at some point in the coming years.