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03/30/12 5:37 PM ET

Waldrop headed to DL with strained right elbow

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Right-hander Kyle Waldrop will start the season on the Major League disabled list with a strained right elbow, Twins general manager Terry Ryan said Friday.

Waldrop felt discomfort in a throwing session on Thursday, and he will be shut down for at least a few days.

"I think he's OK," Ryan said. "We just don't have enough time."

Waldrop said he first felt the discomfort before his outing against the Yankees in Tampa on March 23, and that it only worsened from there.

It's a tough break for Waldrop, as the sinkerballer had a strong chance to make the club after posting a 1.50 ERA in six Grapefruit League appearances.

"It's disappointing but it's baseball," Waldrop said. "Injuries happen. I just have to take care of it right now and move forward. It's a long season. It's not like this is something that's going to require surgery, so I'm just going to kind of deal with it and get better, get healthy."

Waldrop, 26, added that he hopes to get back on the mound soon, and that he's still proud of the way he performed this spring.

"It's a little setback, but I'm not going to keep my head down," Waldrop said. "This is something that I'll come back from and get healthy, and I'll be all right."

Blackburn in position to start home opener

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After tossing five innings against the Red Sox on Friday, Twins right-hander Nick Blackburn said he wasn't sure when he'll make his next start.

But pitching coach Rick Anderson said Blackburn's next outing will be against Class A Advanced Fort Myers on Wednesday and strongly hinted that Blackburn will start the home opener against the Angels on April 9 at Target Field.

"Figure the math," Anderson said. "Five days after that, when is he throwing again? It's the home opener."

With Blackburn apparently scheduled to start in the home opener, the Twins are getting close to setting their rotation. Right-hander Carl Pavano will start on Opening Day in Baltimore on April 6, and left-hander Francisco Liriano appears set to start in the club's second game.

The third starter is up in the air, but right-hander Liam Hendriks is the front-runner to make that start, as Scott Baker (elbow tendonitis) and Jason Marquis (family issue) aren't likely to be ready to open the season. The Twins don't need a fifth starter because of the off-day on April 10.

Blackburn didn't turn in his prettiest outing of the spring on Friday, but he was happy he was able to make an in-game adjustment to bounce back after a shaky first few innings against the Red Sox.

He gave up five hits -- including a two-run homer to Cody Ross in the second frame -- and walked two, but he got out of a few key jams and settled down after the third.

Through four Grapefruit League outings, Blackburn has a 2.12 ERA with 12 strikeouts and four walks over 17 innings.

"Today was as ugly as it's been," Blackburn said. "I was able to do some damage control, but most importantly, I made an adjustment during a game. Even though this is a Spring Training game, you still have adrenaline facing a lineup like that, and the fact that you can make an adjustment in the game was a big thing for me right now. I don't think I could have done that a couple years ago."

Hendriks ready to step into rotation if needed

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Liam Hendriks keeps a ball from each of his starts for his personal collection, and Friday's addition will be a little disfigured.

That ball, with part of its cover noticeably shredded off, came meekly off the bat of Toronto's Jose Bautista on a first-inning groundout down the first-base line thanks to a wicked slider from Hendriks. Bautista eventually got back at Hendriks with a well-hit single to center, but that was the only hit the Australian right-hander allowed in Friday's 4-1 win at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.

In his second-to-last outing before starting the season with either the Twins or Triple-A Rochester, Hendriks struck out two and gave up one walk over five scoreless innings, raising his pitch count to 71. Plus, he joked, he figured out the secret to retiring Bautista.

"Get him to hit it foul for three-quarters of the line, then [have it] spin back real quick," Hendriks said, "and you'll get him.

"I feel really good," Hendriks added. "They said I was done after five, and I felt like I could have gone more, but it's Spring Training."

Hendriks said he was excited about facing a tough Blue Jays lineup, though he grew a little anxious during the Twins' long bus ride to Dunedin when he looked up at the TV and saw Toronto owned a 22-4-1 record entering Friday's game. But he breezed through his five innings, throwing all of his pitches well to both sides of the plate and getting ahead of opposing batters by throwing 10 of 17 first-pitch strikes.

Hendriks will pitch again Tuesday against the Rays, and the plan is for him to throw 90 pitches. Where his next start comes after that is anybody's guess right now. If either Scott Baker (right elbow) or Jason Marquis (family issue) is unavailable for his first turn in the rotation, Hendriks figures to fill that void in Minnesota's third game of the season against the Orioles on April 8.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he was comfortable handing the ball to Hendriks, who made four starts in the Majors last season, and he believes the right-hander will be properly stretched out by that point.

"I'm not sure if they're lining me up for Minnesota. I'm not sure if they're lining me up for Rochester. I just don't know," Hendriks said. "But I try not to think too much about it and just go out there and get all my work done and prove that I'm going to work hard and I'm going to try to get better every outing, and I think I proved that today."

Mauer's swing rounding into form

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- With exactly one week to go before the Twins open the season against the Orioles in Baltimore, catcher Joe Mauer said his swing is almost where he wants it to be.

Mauer said he's still working on a few things to get ready for the season, and he didn't even realize he was hitting .340 heading into Friday's game against the Red Sox.

"Am I? I didn't know," Mauer said. "I guess that's good then. But for me, when I feel like I can get on time for a fastball on the inside part of the plate and everything's working, that's kind of when I feel like I'm ready to go, and I'm pretty close. So hopefully, a few more at-bats will get me there."

Mauer also said that he plans on catching on back-to-back days before the end of Spring Training.

"It's good we have a few more days to do that," Mauer said. "And I feel a lot better heading into this year than I did last year, for sure."

Worth noting

• An MRI taken on Twins second baseman Alexi Casilla's right knee revealed only inflammation in the back of his knee. Casilla, who first experienced tightness in the back of his knee before Thursday's game against the Pirates, is day to day.

• The Twins acquired Minor League first baseman Matt Rizzotti from the Phillies for cash considerations on Friday. Rizzotti, 26, hit .295 with 24 home runs, 34 doubles and a .395 on-base percentage in 139 games with Double-A Reading last season. He's expected to start the year at Double-A New Britain or Triple-A Rochester.

• Twins outfielder Trevor Plouffe returned to the lineup on Friday after missing 10 games with a strained right hamstring sustained on March 18. Plouffe, who went 6-for-7 with three homers in two Minor League games earlier this week, started in right field.

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.