Baker set to make '09 debut

Baker set to make '09 debut

MINNEAPOLIS -- Scott Baker's return from the disabled list is good news for the Twins, but also unfortunate news for left-hander Brian Duensing, who had a chance to spend the first nine games of the season with a Major League club.

Duensing was optioned to Triple-A Rochester after Tuesday's 3-2 victory over Toronto to make room for Baker, who will start Wednesday's game. Baker has been on the disabled list with shoulder stiffness since the start of the season. The move was not a complete surprise to Duensing, but it wasn't any less disappointing.

"I knew they had to do something because Baker was coming back. I didn't know what would happen, so I just did what I could," Duensing said.

Duensing wasn't expected to make the Opening Day roster, but seized the opportunity when it was clear Baker wasn't going to be with the team in the early going. He was used sparingly out of the bullpen, and while not spectacular in posting a 6.00 ERA in just three innings of work, Duensing did show signs that he might be back with the Twins sooner rather than later.

"I was glad to go out and throw well and prove to the guys I can pitch at this level. I need to go down to Rochester now and pitch well and be confident and be positive and hope to be back here soon," Duensing said.

Twins Manger Ron Gardenhire said the move will allow Duensing to become a starting pitcher again, and he will get the innings he needs to progress.

"He will probably go in the rotation down there and get stretched out and we will see what happens."

Pitching matchup
MIN: RHP Scott Baker (0-0, -.-- ERA)
Baker began the year on the disabled list with right shoulder stiffness. It was not a problem that the Twins felt would keep Baker out for long, but they didn't want to risk it, considering that Baker had trouble keeping his arm loose between innings during his final Spring Training outing. The right-hander has shown more consistency in each of the last two seasons and showed his focus under pressure by going 3-0 with a 2.53 ERA during the Twins' pennant chase last September. Baker is 0-1 with a 3.72 ERA in three starts vs. Toronto.

TOR: RHP Scott Richmond (0-0, 6.75 ERA)
In his season debut on Friday, Richmond was only able to work four innings against the Indians before a lengthy rain delay -- the longest in Jays franchise history -- forced him from the game. In his abbreviated appearance, the 29-year-old rookie allowed three runs on five hits with four strikeouts and two walks in a no-decision. The three runs Richmond allowed were each driven in by Cleveland's Travis Hafner, who tagged the pitcher for a two-run double and a solo homer. Richmond has never faced the Twins.

Baker will be making his fourth career start against Toronto on Wednesday. Baker has yet to beat Toronto, at 0-1 with a 3.72 ERA. ... Justin Morneau has hit safely in eight of his last nine games against the Jays and Delmon Young is a career .336 hitter in 29 total games against Toronto.

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Up next
• Thursday: Twins (Francisco Liriano, 0-2, 6.94) vs. Blue Jays (Roy Halladay, 2-0, 3.86), 7:10 p.m. CT
• Friday: Twins (Nick Blackburn, 0-1, 5.73) vs. Angels (Dustin Moseley, 1-0, 3.86), 7:10 p.m. CT
• Saturday: Twins (Kevin Slowey, 1-0, 7.94) vs. Angels (Darren Oliver, 0-0, 2.45), 6:10 p.m. CT

Joe Kieser is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.