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Baker's in, Bonser's out

Baker's in, Bonser's out

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins' starter for Thursday's game against the Orioles is no longer a question mark, as right-hander Scott Baker has been officially slotted into the role.

Baker arrived at the Metrodome on Monday afternoon after flying in from Fort Myers, Fla., where he completed his rehab stint.

The pitcher will be activated from the 15-day disabled list prior to Thursday's start, which will be his first for the Twins since May 3. That's when Baker reaggravated his strained right groin while pitching against the Tigers. Baker, who is 2-0 with a 4.09 ERA in six starts, did not experience any problems with the groin in his latest rehab start for Class A Fort Myers, and he's scheduled to throw a bullpen session either Monday or Tuesday to keep him in line for the start.

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The roster move to activate Baker has not yet been announced, but Twins manager Ron Gardenhire officially informed Boof Bonser on Monday that he will be moving to the bullpen.

Bonser's shift to the 'pen was an expected move to make room for Baker in the rotation, and Gardenhire said the move was immediate. Even though Bonser was going to be in the bullpen on Monday night against the Yankees, he will only be available to pitch in an emergency because he's still slightly sore from his start on Saturday.

As for what Bonser's role will be in relief, Gardenhire said that it will depend on where the pitcher is needed in the upcoming days.

"We'll use him however we can," Gardenhire said. "I'm not afraid to put him anywhere out there."

The expectation is that the Twins will utilize 13 pitchers on their staff when Baker is activated, meaning that infielder Matt Macri will likely be sent back to Triple-A Rochester. That will leave Minnesota with just three position players on its bench.

But that plan could hinge on Nick Punto's ability to play through his strained left hamstring. Punto tweaked the hamstring upon his return from the DL during Saturday's 12-inning, 7-6 loss to the Yankees, and he was scratched from Sunday's lineup. The infielder was still sore on Monday, but he told Gardenhire that he'll be ready to play on Tuesday.

Gardenhire said Punto's injury has made the roster decision a little more difficult, but the feeling is that he'll have to play through it to help out what has been a fatigued bullpen.

"You are in a stretch of 40 games in 41 days, and if there is any time in baseball you might need 13 pitchers, that would be it," Gardenhire said. "There have been times since I've been managing here that I thought we could go to 13 pitchers. We've always stayed against it and got through it, but this might be a time. We have a lot of issues."

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

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