Notes: Radke ready to start Thursday

Notes: Radke to start Thursday

MINNEAPOLIS -- Brad Radke will start against the Royals on Thursday with the hope that he'll show the Twins he's ready to be their No. 3 starter in the playoffs.

Not making a start since Aug. 25, Radke has been sidelined with a stress fracture in his right shoulder socket. Thursday's start comes a few days before the Twins have to set their playoff roster, giving them time to decide whether Radke will pitch in the postseason.

"If he can rebound and his arm says he's coming along really good, then we can set him on the roster," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "If it's not, then we know we can't go that route."

While the Twins' Game 3 starter in the playoffs is still a question mark, Gardenhire said the first two starters have been set. Johan Santana, as expected, will start Game 1 of the division series and Boof Bonser will get the nod in Game 2.

Santana will not start again until the opening day of the division series, leaving him seven days of rest in between starts. The hope is to keep Santana fresh for his start, while also allowing him extra time to rest a sore hip.

"His health is fine, but we know he's had that issue," Gardenhire said. "We just want to make certain he's ready."

If Radke isn't ready to make a start in the first round of the playoffs, the club will likely look to rookie Matt Garza. The Twins will take 11 pitchers as part of their postseason roster, but Radke (12-9, 4.46 ERA) will only be added to that roster if he's ready to be a starter.

To set up their postseason rotation, the Twins have made a few changes to the rotation for the club's weekend series with the White Sox.

Bonser's start was moved up to Friday to allow him to be on regular rest for his playoff start on Wednesday, Oct. 4. Friday's start will be a shortened one for Bonser, who is expected to throw around 70 pitches.

Garza will start Saturday's game against the White Sox and, depending on the impact of Sunday's game in the pennant race, either Carlos Silva or Scott Baker will get the nod in the regular-season finale.

Finding a balance: Gardenhire made it clear once again on Tuesday that despite securing a playoff spot, the team will continue to play the rest of the week for the division title.

"We're going to attack it as best we can," Gardenhire said.

But that doesn't mean Gardenhire doesn't want to rest some of his players during the next five games.

Only two players were missing from the lineup the day after the team's playoff clinch, as Joe Mauer and Rondell White sat out.

Waiting game: Francisco Liriano has begun a rehabilitation program that will hopefully make him ready to pitch for the 2007 season.

For now, the Twins medical staff made the decision that Liriano will not undergo any surgery, though the possibility still remains open if the soreness in Liriano's elbow continues.

While the team was on its 10-game road trip, Liriano saw a few different specialists to determine what is causing the pain. Exploratory arthroscopic surgery, which would give doctors a closer look at the ligament, is a possible option in the future.

"I wouldn't mind that," Liriano said, "because I want to know what's wrong with my arm, since it still hurts. I want to be ready for next year."

Liriano took part in the team's celebration Monday night, but admitted that it was a bittersweet moment for him.

"The team is in the playoffs and I would like to be pitching there," Liriano said. "Unfortunately, I guess, injuries happen."

Twins tidbits: Wayne Hattaway, a longtime clubhouse attendant and member of the Twins' traveling party for the past five seasons, threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Tuesday night's game. Hattaway was diagnosed with cancer of the chest almost two weeks ago and is scheduled to have surgery on Thursday. Mike Redmond caught Hattaway's pitch and the man beloved throughout the organization was greeted with hugs from the entire team when he left the diamond. ... Glen Perkins remains a possibility for the postseason roster, but only if he shows the club that he can be used as a situational lefty. Perkins is still considered to be more of a long relief option right now.

Coming up: The Twins will host the Royals for Game 3 of their series on Wednesday night in a 7:10 p.m. CT start. Right-hander Carlos Silva (10-14, 5.95) will try to pick up his 11th quality start of the year as he faces Royals left-hander Mark Redman (10-10, 5.83).

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