Notes: Guerrier gets a starting nod

Notes: Guerrier gets a starting nod

MINNEAPOLIS -- Matt Guerrier has been waiting a long time for his first Major League win.

Having gone 87 appearances without a victory to make him the active leader among Major League pitchers, Guerrier has shown plenty of patience in waiting out his first "W."

That patience might not have to last much longer, as it was announced on Saturday that Guerrier will get the start on Tuesday in place of Scott Baker. It will be the first start for the right-hander in the Major Leagues since he made two for the Twins in 2004.

"I'm not saying it's going to be easy," Guerrier said of getting that first win. "I'll be on a pitch limit and everything, but I'll go out there and see what happens."

The winless streak has gone on for so long that Guerrier has been subjected to plenty of chiding in the clubhouse. It's not something that really has gotten to the pitcher, and even he jokes about it.

"I give myself a hard time about it, too," Guerrier said. "I just try to joke around about it."

For most clubs, it's a common occurrence to see every relief pitcher with at least one win, while some have racked up double-digit wins, like Jesse Crain did last season. But Guerrier has had to watch other guys -- like rookie Pat Neshek, who racked up three wins, and Francisco Liriano, who earned a "W" in his short stint in the bullpen.

"It's just kind of like he's been snakebit," pitching coach Rick Anderson said of the winless streak. "But now he's going to get his opportunity."

Getting back to being a starter, the role in which he has spent most of his career, is something that Guerrier had hoped he'd get the chance to do. There had been musings, with the Twins' recent rotation struggles, that Guerrier might get another shot as a starter, especially after he threw 49 pitches in his outing against Detroit on Thursday.

"People have always said stuff like, 'Do you think this is something that's going to come?'" Guerrier said. "I didn't really even think about it. I didn't want to think about that and have it not come, but I was very excited when [Anderson] told me today."

When the time comes on Tuesday for Guerrier to step back on the mound as the starter, the entire club will be rooting for him.

"Hopefully he'll reel off three or four in a row now," Anderson said with a smile.

Regaining confidence: Trying to figure out why the success that Baker had in the Minor Leagues has not been there for him this season in the Majors hasn't been easy for the Twins' coaching staff.

Baker was 5-4 with a 2.67 ERA in 12 starts for Rochester this season while going 4-8 with a 6.72 ERA in 14 starts for the Twins. Anderson feels that a large part of those struggles have been due to Baker's lack of confidence at this level.

"He's pitching timid," Anderson said. "I think he's thinking too much and trying to make the perfect pitch instead of being aggressive and being the guy that got him here. Hopefully putting him in the 'pen, where you come in for an inning and have to attack, will help him out."

Race for MVP: There has been a lot of talk about Twins first baseman Justin Morneau being a possible candidate for the American League MVP.

But in some recent articles, there has been another Twins player brought up as a candidate for the award -- Johan Santana.

There has long been a debate about whether a pitcher should be considered for the MVP award, considering that there is a separate award, the Cy Young, for pitchers.

And while Twins manager Ron Gardenhire admits that Santana should get consideration as the MVP for all he's done to help carry the club this season, he still feels the award is meant for a position player.

"I've always said that if a guy is out there playing every day leading your ballclub, he should be the MVP," Gardenhire said. "Maybe on some teams a pitcher is your MVP. ... But I think it should be a guy that's out there every day, battling five days a week, that earns the MVP award."

Making the jump: Joe Mauer's 3-for-4 night at the plate in Friday's game against the Tigers raised his batting average to .348 on the season.

It also helped stretch Mauer's lead for the batting title to five points over Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who is hitting .343.

Even after his re-emergence on Friday, the Twins catcher was given the night off on Saturday to allow him a start in Sunday's day game. Though Gardenhire said that he does pay attention to how Mauer is doing in terms of his stats, it's not something that will affect how he uses the catcher down the stretch.

"I see it, I know what he's at and where the other guy is most of the time," Gardenhire said of the numbers. "But it can't overtake what we're trying to do as a baseball team. His bat in the lineup -- whether he's hitting the ball or not hitting it -- is very important at this time of the year. He's going to have to hit his way through it, he's going to have to win [the title], and that's just the way it is. He wouldn't want it any other way."

Coming up: The Twins will host their final game of the season against the division-leading Tigers on Sunday in a 1:10 p.m. CT start. Santana (17-5, 2.84) will try to give the Twins their 26th win when he starts, facing Detroit right-hander Jeremy Bonderman (11-7, 4.02).

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