Notes: Radke to skip Saturday start

Notes: Radke to skip Saturday start

MINNEAPOLIS -- Brad Radke will not make his start on Saturday as scheduled, and it's unknown exactly when he will be able to return to the rotation.

Expectations were that Radke would be able make the start at Yankee Stadium after being given some extra days of rest to let the cortisone shot he received this past Saturday in his right shoulder take hold.

But on Wednesday, Radke tried to play catch for the first time since receiving the shot, and after just a couple of throws, he had to stop. Radke didn't have much arm strength and told pitching coach Rick Anderson that he still felt pain in the shoulder.

The decision was then made to skip the start, giving Radke more time to rest.

"As tough as Radke is and everything he's pitched through this year, we'll skip a start here and give him more time," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "In the meantime, he's going to let it rest and do his stuff. We'll see if he can go out and play catch in another five, six days here.

Scott Baker is expected to replace Radke, joining the club once rosters expand on Friday. In 12 starts at Rochester this season, Baker is 5-4 with a 2.67 ERA. He allowed three runs on five hits over 7 2/3 innings in his last start at Pawtucket on Sunday.

The news about Radke wasn't exactly what the Twins had been hoping for, with their rotation already in a bit of upheaval due to Francisco Liriano's arm troubles and Carlos Silva's struggles on the mound. The addition of Baker will give the Twins three starting pitchers who have less than a full year's experience in the big leagues.

"Our ballclub could use him, but we also know that he's thrown a lot of his body and arm around here for a long time," Gardenhire said of Radke. "So we're going to give him some time and go from there. We owe him that. If it works out, it works out. If not, we'll continue to battle for him. Right now, we'll give him time."

Taking another step: Liriano threw his first bullpen session in tennis shoes on Wednesday afternoon, and the news was all good following the throwing session.

Liriano threw a total of 40 pitches with a mixture of fastballs and changeups. Throwing at about 80 percent speed, Liriano said that he felt no pain whatsoever and that the ball was hitting the glove pretty well.

The next step will come on Thursday with another tennis shoe bullpen session, if Liriano gets through Wednesday night without any pain or discomfort. This second session could be more telling, as Liriano is expected to throw a few sliders, a pitch that puts more pressure on the elbow. The slider has been a common go-to pitch for Liriano early in his career to get hitters out, but now the pitcher admits that he might have overused the pitch a bit.

"I'm not going to throw that many sliders now," Liriano said. "That's the change I want to make -- throw less sliders. I threw too many. I just don't want to get hurt again. I'll do whatever not to be back hurt."

Giving a little heart: Torii Hunter has long been known as the face of the Twins organization, and now he might have earned the title of the club's heart, as well.

In a presentation prior to the Twins' game with the Royals on Wednesday, Hunter was honored by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association with the "Heart and Hustle" award. Former Twins great Tony Oliva had the honor of presenting Hunter with the award.

One player from each of the 30 Major League clubs was recognized with the award for the player that "best embodies the values, spirit and tradition of the game."

For Hunter, earning this honor was something that meant a little more than other awards he's received, based on who selected him for it.

"You're talking about some superstars that played in their time, and Hall of Famers, and for them to recognize me as a player, I'm excited," Hunter said. "It lets me know that these guys are watching and they know who is out there giving it their all, playing hurt and sacrificing their bodies to make plays, and that's what I do. I go out there and play hard and they see that. Now I know it doesn't go unnoticed.

"That's something a lot of the older players that are out of the game talk about," Hunter said. "They are the main ones that tell you, you don't want to go back and feel like you can do better. So instead, run as much as you can, play as hard as you can and just enjoy the game."

Needing production: The designated hitter spot has been a bit of a revolving door position for the Twins all season, and that continues to be the case.

After Rondell White started five straight games at DH upon his return from the disabled list, Jason Kubel was slotted in the spot for Wednesday's game.

"He's been doing a few things with [hitting coach] Joe Vavra on his swing," Gardenhire said of Kubel. "Hopefully he'll put some swings on the ball."

Neither White nor Kubel has been hitting well recently, with both holding averages of .214 and .251, respectively. With the lack of production at the spot, the Twins are hoping that something can occur to get the two players back on track.

"Hopefully [White] gets better as we go here and we get Kubel swinging, because we need them both, really," Gardenhire said. "You're going to need them all."

Down on the farm: Quinton McCracken delivered an RBI single in the 11th inning to help carry Triple-A Rochester to a 6-5 victory at Pawtucket on Tuesday night. The Red Wings hold a three-game lead for the International League Wild Card spot with six games remaining in the season. ... J.R. Taylor drove in the lone run for Class A Fort Myers in a rain-shortened 1-0 victory at Clearwater. Joshua Hill and Jose Mijares combined to throw 5 2/3 scoreless innings in the win.

Coming up: The Twins will close out their three-game series with the Royals in a 12:10 p.m. CT start on Wednesday. Johan Santana (15-5, 3.01) will try to match Roy Halladay for the American League lead in wins as he takes on another southpaw, the Royals' Jorge De La Rosa (1-1, 7.48).

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