Blackburn, Baker plan to hit ground running

Blackburn, Baker plan to hit ground running

Blackburn, Baker plan to hit ground running
MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins right-handers Nick Blackburn and Scott Baker said during TwinsFest that they're both healthy and on track to be ready to go once pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on Feb. 18.

Blackburn underwent surgery on Oct. 1 to decompress the radial nerve in his right forearm after being diagnosed with Radial Tunnel Syndrome. The surgery essentially loosened up an inflamed nerve that was causing discomfort in his forearm.

He said he had to wear a cast for 11 days after the surgery, but that rehab went well and that he started his throwing program right on schedule shortly after Christmas.

"I've been throwing typical bullpens and all that stuff," Blackburn said. "Like I said, everything's felt fine, so I can't imagine, unless we run into whatever, which is always possible. I think I'm on track."

Baker, meanwhile, was placed on the disabled list twice in the second half of the season because of a right elbow strain. He tossed just 24 innings after the All-Star break, but made two relief appearances in the last week of the season.

He said he began his throwing program around Jan. 1, and he expects to be ready to go without any problems once Spring Training starts.

He also said he was happy to hear from Twins manager Ron Gardenhire earlier in the day that he's currently slated to start the club's home opener against the Angels on April 9 at Target Field.

"He mentioned that to me just a little while ago, which is great," Baker said. "Carl [Pavano] obviously deserves to be the Opening Day starter. He's been very good for us the last couple years, no doubt about that. But I'm not going to lie, when you start the home opener, it's just an excitement that you don't get even on Opening Day on the road. It's really cool. It was a really cool experience. I'm excited to be able to experience that for myself."