MINNEAPOLIS -- Even Nick Blackburn's wife knew something was wrong.
"[She] was telling me ... 'I could tell you were completely lost,'" Blackburn said. "You had no idea what you were doing pitching."
Now back with the Twins, Blackburn is preparing to start on Friday at Kansas City after his struggles prompted the team to send him to Triple-A Rochester for two weeks. The right-hander is confident after making some slight adjustments and allowing only one earned run over 15 innings in two starts with the Red Wings.
Rochester pitching coach Bobby Cuellar watched some tape of Blackburn from the 2009 season and helped him focus on calming his front side during his delivery. That change helped Blackburn throw from the correct arm slot, improving his command.
"Now when I'm missing with pitches, I'm missing in good locations as opposed to right over the middle of the plate," Blackburn said. "It just seems more natural for me than what I was doing earlier in the season."
Blackburn posted a 4-5 record with an 8.10 ERA in 13 starts with the Twins. His struggles are just one of the many reasons Minnesota's starting staff has buckled in disappointing fashion.
"We count on him," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's supposed to be in there. It's what we signed him for. He's a big part of it. We need him, desperately.
"You have to get something solidified here with the rotation to move forward to give yourself a chance every night."