Twins Wednesday: Bad back forces Gibson to miss start

Twins pitcher Kyle Gibson missed his scheduled start on Wednesday against the Indians due to a stiff lower back.

David Butler II/David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS — Kyle Gibson walked slowly around the Twins clubhouse Wednesday morning, which was his scheduled day to make his next start. But a stiff lower back bumped him from his turn in the rotation, and Minnesota called on reliever Anthony Swarzak to make a spot start against Cleveland in the series finale.

Gibson said Wednesday that he first experienced the tightness in his back Monday during a bullpen session. After throwing about 10 pitches, he felt a twinge in his back. Gibson proceeded to throw a few more pitches but couldn’t loosen up his back.

"It’s still pretty tight," Gibson said Wednesday. "I was obviously trying to be as optimistic as possible on Monday when I tightened up. It just never loosened up. I thought even by the end of the day on Monday I’d feel better, but as the day went on it just got worse and worse."

He was hopeful that treatment Tuesday would have him ready for Wednesday’s start, but that wasn’t the case late Tuesday night when the Twins told Swarzak he’d be getting the start. Minnesota remains hopeful that Gibson can slide back into the rotation on Saturday against the Chicago White Sox.

"Friday will be a big day for us, for him to go out there and run around a little bit," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "We’re hoping Saturday. That’s just the hope. You never know with a back."

Gibson has been one of Minnesota’s better starting pitchers this season. As of Wednesday, the 26-year-old right-hander was 8-8 with a 4.19 ERA. But his 2014 season — just his second year in the majors — has been a bit of a roller coaster. Gibson allowed at five or more earned runs in three of his last five outings, raising his ERA by nearly a full run during that stretch.

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Gardenhire noted that Samuel Deduno, one of the Twins’ other long relievers, is available out of the bullpen Wednesday. He could be an option to replace Swarzak during Wednesday’s game if Swarzak does indeed throw just 60 or so pitches.

Bridgewater throws out first pitch: One day before heading to Mankato for training camp, Vikings rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was at Target Field to throw out a ceremonial first pitch before Wednesday’s game.

Bridgewater said it was the first time he’d been to a Twins game since the Vikings drafted him out of Louisville in the first round of May’s NFL Draft. And for those wondering, Bridgewater wore his gloves — at least before he threw the first pitch.

"It’s part of my identity now, Teddy Two Gloves," Bridgewater said.

The 21-year-old Bridgewater will be battling for a starting job during Minnesota’s training camp this month, hoping to edge out Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder. Bridgewater took part in some of the Vikings’ offseason workouts, but this will mark his first training camp.

"I’m just ready to get there, put the pads on, just continue to play football," Bridgewater said. "That’s what we’re here to do, play football. I just can’t wait to see the guys. We’ve had a month off now. I just can’t wait to see the guys, get back, and just fly around."

Injury updates: Twins first baseman Joe Mauer remains on the 15-day disabled list with an oblique injury, but he continues to make progress. He took swings in the cage before Wednesday’s game, a step closer to taking live batting practice. Minnesota’s coaches and front office have said they won’t have a timetable on Mauer’s return until he’s able to take live BP.

Right-hander Ricky Nolasco (elbow) was resting Wednesday, but the hope is that he’ll throw a bullpen session Sunday. Nolasco, in his first season with the Twins, hasn’t pitched since July 6 against the Yankees.

Twins top prospect Byron Buxton remains day-to-day with High-A Fort Myers. The 20-year-old center fielder was hit in the right wrist over the weekend, but X-rays on the wrist were negative. He wasn’t in the Miracle’s lineup Wednesday, but Twins general manager Terry Ryan hopes Buxton will play Thursday.

"It’s frustrating for him, because he’s a young man that needs development and at-bats and repetition and figuring things out," Ryan said. "Unfortunately, there’s not anything he can do about it. It’s not like he’s not hurt. He is hurt and has been hurt."

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