Twins using their break for health reasons

Twins using their break for health reasons

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins have already turned their focus to the 2011 season following another first-round playoff exit. And for some of the Twins players, that means using the extra time in the offseason to get healthy for Spring Training.

Michael Cuddyer had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee last week. Nick Blackburn had arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow last Wednesday and right-hander Scott Baker will have arthroscopic surgery on his elbow this Wednesday, Twins general manager Bill Smith said on Tuesday.

Smith said that all of the players are expected to be ready in time for Spring Training.

"I don't anticipate any of these issues affecting any of these guys being prepared for Spring Training," Smith said.

Cuddyer told reporters last Monday during locker cleanout at Target Field that he was going to have his right knee cleaned out after it had bothered him throughout the 2010 season. Twins physician Dr. John Steubs performed the surgery on Cuddyer's knee.

Blackburn, 28, complained of some tightness in his elbow after a start against the Royals in April and then had his next start moved back a couple days. But the elbow wasn't something that Blackburn, who went 10-12 with a 5.42 ERA, mentioned the rest of the season. Twins physicians Dr. Dan Buss and Dr. Steubs performed the cleanup procedure on Blackburn's elbow, removing a bone spur and some loose particles.

Smith said that like Blackburn, Baker will have a similar "minor clean out" on his right elbow. Baker's elbow will be scoped by Mets physician Dr. David Altchek, who performed Tommy John surgery on Twins closer Joe Nathan in March.

The 29-year-old Baker, who was 12-9 with a 4.49 ERA, received two cortisone shots in his elbow during the season -- one in July and one in September -- to battle elbow tendinitis.

"Every year we get to the end of the season and anybody that's had issues, aches and pains, we get them looked at and it's very common for us to do one or two of these every offseason," Smith said. "We've had it done in the past with a number of different pitchers.

"Now is the time. We want to get them done as quickly as we can so that No. 1, they have time to prepare for Spring Training, and No. 2, if there are any further follow-up issues we have time to address them."

When cleaning out his locker at Target Field on Oct. 11, Baker said that he would meet with team doctors to discuss the possibility of a procedure on his elbow after being slowed by two cortisone shots this past season.

"I don't want to have to endure what I had to this year, that wasn't a lot of fun," said Baker, who just finished the second year of his five-year, $15.25 million contract. "So if something needs to be cleaned up, then that's what needs to be done."

The Twins have conducted end-of-season physicals with all of their players and a number of them had MRIs just to check on anything that might have bothered them during the season. Catcher Joe Mauer, who battled a sore left knee at the end of the season, will have an MRI on his knee likely sometime this week, Smith said.

Rookie third baseman Danny Valencia had an MRI on his right elbow, but Smith said it wasn't a surgical case. Right-hander Jon Rauch is also set to have his left knee looked at in the coming weeks.

"We've got a number of guys we're going to follow up on," Smith said. "The trainers are doing a great job of continuing to monitor the players. We've only been out about a week. So, we'll let them get home and get about a week's rest. There will be a few guys that I'm sure will pop up with a few questions and we continue to monitor that and basically get a weekly report through the offseason."

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