Rays 10, Twins 4
Scott Baker struggled in his return to the mound on Monday for
the Minnesota Twins.
He allowed seven runs in 2 2/3 innings, giving up a grand slam
to Ben Zobrist and a two-run homer to Elliot Johnson, in a 10-4
loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire is waiting for Baker, who has been
dealing with tendinitis in his pitching elbow, to find his 2011
”Our starting pitcher put us in a hole today,” Gardenhire
said. ”He got his work in, yes. But we chased the ball all over
the field and spent eight hours in the first three innings out
”That ain’t good enough. He’s got to pick up the pace and get
going now. He says his arm’s fine, everything’s good. Well then
The injury has been a concern for Baker, who had a strained
pitching elbow last year.
The time off delayed his preparation for the season and created
doubt on whether he’d be ready to start the home opener April 9
against the Angels.
”We’ve got a long season,” Baker said. ”To sit here and say
that’s the most important thing, to make that home opener start,
that’s just not the case. Obviously I’d love to make that start,
but if I can’t, I can’t.”
Jeff Niemann, competing for the fifth spot in the Rays’
rotation, gave up two runs and six hits in five innings with five
Rays manager Joe Maddon said he’d announce the fifth starter
Niemann said his fight for a spot with Jason Hammel for the same
spot in 2009 prepared him for this year’s competition against Wade
”At the time, it’s never fun to go through stuff like that
where you’re waiting `till the last day to find out what’s going
on, but at the same time, that battle in `09 prepared me for this
year,” Niemann said. ”Very few guys are coming in with guaranteed
spots. That’s just how it is here. That’s how it is anywhere.”
Baker’s health is a concern for the Twins.
He was Minnesota’s most consistent pitcher last year, going 8-6
with a career-best 3.14 ERA.
He wasn’t at his best on Monday.
”It’s like you need to allow things to happen, instead of
create velocity, create movement, and basically trust in your stuff
and trust in your ability to make pitches,” Baker said. ”That
wasn’t the case today.”
Baker’s struggles helped the Rays’ offense get untracked.
Led by Zobrist, who went 3 for 3, the Rays had 14 hits after
entering the game with a .222 average.
”Today was a good day for the offense to get going a little
bit,” Zobrist said. ”We haven’t been scoring as much as we liked,
but everybody’s getting it going today and feeling good.”
Twins backup catcher Ryan Doumit hit his first home run of the
spring, and Justin Morneau and Jamey Carroll added doubles.
Notes: The Twins reassigned right-hander Brendan Wise to minor
league camp, and now have 38 active players in camp. … Outfielder
Josh Willingham was scratched from his start because of a right
ankle injury. … Twins pitcher Jason Marquis remains away from
camp as he spends time with his daughter, who was injured in a
bicycle accident last week. There is no timetable on his