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03/28/08 7:10 PM ET
With Liriano out, rotation set
Twins to go with Blackburn in third slot, Slowey fourth
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Now that the decision has been made for Francisco Liriano to start the season in the Minors, the Twins' rotation for their opening series against the Angels has finally been set. Livan Hernandez will get the start Opening Day on Monday against Angels right-hander Jered Weaver. Boof Bonser is scheduled to start Game 2 on Tuesday. Nick Blackburn, who earned the final rotation spot after Liriano was optioned to Class A Fort Myers, will get the start in the club's third contest Wednesday. Kevin Slowey will then pitch the final game of the opening series against the Angels on Thursday. Right-hander Scott Baker is still expected to startthe club's fifth game of the season April 4 against the Royals. But a final determination will not be made until Baker's Minor League start in Fort Myers on Sunday. Baker threw a bullpen on Friday and reported feeling great afterward. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said that Baker is expected to get up to 70-75 pitches on Sunday, and that will have him on line to throw between 90-100 pitches for his first regular-season start. Gardenhire also said that the team will have to call up another pitcher if Baker has any trouble Sunday. But the possible replacements for Baker do not include Liriano. "It won't be an adjustment with Liriano; he's got his program," Gardenhire said. "If there are issues with [Baker] down here Sunday, then we'll have to find somebody else down [in the Minors]." The move to option Liriano to Class A Fort Myers also solidified the Twins' Opening Day roster. The 25 players set to head to Minnesota are as follows -- catchers Joe Mauer and Mike Redmond; infielders Adam Everett, Brendan Harris, Mike Lamb, Justin Morneau, Nick Punto and Matt Tolbert; outfielders Michael Cuddyer, Carlos Gomez, Jason Kubel, Craig Monroe and Delmon Young; and pitchers Baker, Brian Bass, Blackburn, Bonser, Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Hernandez, Joe Nathan, Pat Neshek, Dennys Reyes, Juan Rincon and Slowey.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.