Notes: Baker optioned to Triple-A

Notes: Baker optioned to Triple-A

OAKLAND -- After struggling to keep the ball down in all of his starts this year, the Twins finally made a move to help starter Scott Baker by optioning him to Triple-A Rochester on Thursday.

Baker's return to the Minors looked to be a sure thing after he gave up six runs in 4 2/3 innings on Tuesday in a 6-3 loss to the Angels. In nine starts this season, Baker was 2-5 with a 6.06 ERA.

To replace Baker on the 25-man roster, the Twins recalled infielder Terry Tiffee from Rochester, and he will join the club prior to Friday night's game at Oakland.

Pitching coach Rick Anderson broke the news to Baker and said that the 24-year-old took it well, knowing there is some work needed to be done.

"He agreed that his bullpens are unbelievable but in games, something happens," Anderson said. "He's down, down, down like a broken record in the 'pen. But when he got into games, whether it's the adrenaline, the crowd, the hitter, or all the intangibles put together, those just took over and he couldn't carry what he did in the 'pen into his starts."

The Twins have now had three starters taken out of the rotation at some point during the 2006 season. Baker became the second pitcher from the Opening Day rotation to be optioned to Rochester as Kyle Lohse was sent down on May 17.

The Twins hope Baker will discover what it takes to carry over his success in the bullpens to the games.

"Bake is a young guy and a big part of our future, so he needs to do this," Anderson said. "Whether you had a [Carlos] Silva or not, he needed to do this -- for his confidence and the long haul."

The move to call up Tiffee was a bit unexpected, as the Twins have gone with 12 pitchers all season and were considering adding another catcher. Such a move would have allowed Joe Mauer or Mike Redmond to play the DH role.

But in the end, the Twins' front office chose the player most deserving of the role.

Tiffee will give the Twins another backup option at first base, but he will likely only see limited action off the bench. In 49 games with Rochester this season, Tiffee is batting .298 (59-for-158) with 12 doubles and 26 RBIs.

"That will give us another bat off the bench," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of the move. "And we'll see if we can get through the weekend OK."

How long Tiffee will remain with the club could depend on how much work the bullpen sees this weekend in Oakland. Beginning with Boof Bonser's start on Thursday, the Twins 'pen could get tested this weekend. Brad Radke starts on Saturday and Silva will make his first start since being moved to the bullpen when he takes over Baker's spot on Sunday.

Gardenhire said that if the bullpen is stretched over the next few days, there is the possibility that the club could call up another hurler to give the Twins 12 pitchers.

Hi-ho Silva: The move to option Baker also completed the transition of returning Silva to the Twins' rotation.

"I am very excited about it," Silva said of his Sunday start. "Especially late in the game recently, I've got my pitches back. I've been feeling very good with my mechanics and my sinker. It's very exciting, because I've been waiting to get back to the rotation."

Silva isn't the only one eagerly anticipating his start on Sunday. Anderson said he's looking forward to seeing how Silva will respond to being back in the rotation.

"You look at the past two years and he's been one of our most consistent pitchers of all," Anderson said. "And what you see coming out of the 'pen the last two, three times for him, is like, 'Wow, there it is.' That makes it exciting to put him back in the rotation, if he can keep it all going like that. You get the Carlos that we've seen the past few years, and that's what this club needs."

Trade of all trades: Just one day after southpaw Francisco Liriano wowed yet another team in the American League, the trade made with the San Francisco Giants was a topic of conversation as the Twins arrived in the Bay Area.

Gardenhire admitted the club knew it was getting a gem in the deal to get pitcher Joe Nathan, but the other two acquisitions in Bonser and Liriano were a little more unknown. Now, the Twins have all three players on their Major League roster and the Giants no longer have catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who currently plays for the Chicago White Sox.

Though it took giving up a good catcher in Pierzynski to get the three pitchers, Gardenhire said he has only one regret of the entire deal.

"I just wish San Francisco had kept A.J. so we wouldn't have to deal with him in Chicago," Gardenhire said with a laugh.

Twins tidbits: Michael Cuddyer was back in the Twins' lineup after missing Wednesday's game with a swollen foot. The right fielder said that his foot was feeling a lot better. ... The Twins weren't expecting to face Rich Harden on Sunday, but it appears in all likelihood that will be case the case after the right-hander made a two-inning rehab start for Sacramento at Las Vegas on Monday. Harden struck out three in the two innings. Minnesota hasn't had much success against the pitcher, with the club hitting just .107 off Harden. ... In the month of May, Joe Mauer batted .386 in 26 games with four home runs and 21 RBIs. His .386 average was the ninth-highest May average in Twins history.

Down on the farm: Errol Simonitsch pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing just three hits while striking out four as Double-A New Britain defeated Harrisburg, 9-0, on Wednesday night. Scott Whitrock went 2-for-4 in the win with three runs scored.

Coming up: The Twins take on Oakland for Game 2 of the four-game series at McAfee Coliseum. Johan Santana will take to the mound for the Twins and face off against Oakland right-hander Kirk Saarloos in the 9:05 p.m. CT start.

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.