Blackburn appears set to start home opener
FORT MYERS, Fla. — After tossing five innings against the Red Sox, 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 he’ll 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 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 got out of a few key games and settled down after the third.
Through four Grapefruit League outings, Blackburn has a 2.25 ERA with 12 strikeouts and four walks over 16 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.”