Gardy catches up with Baker before spot start

Gardy catches up with Baker before spot start

MINNEAPOLIS -- It's not very often a manager talks to the opposing starting pitcher before his start, but that's exactly what happened with Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and Rangers right-hander Scott Baker on Tuesday.

But it was an unusual circumstance, as the former Twins pitcher had yet to be named Tuesday's starter after right-hander Yu Darvish was scratched with neck stiffness.

Gardenhire had just heard that Darvish would miss his start from Rangers manager Ron Washington roughly five hours before the game, and he also happened to run into Baker on the field. So Gardenhire simply chatted with Baker, who played with the Twins from 2005-11 until missing the '12 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

"It was good seeing him -- he did pretty well for us here," Gardenhire said. "We didn't talk about much baseball, and at the time I didn't know he was going to be the starter. But he did tell me he had a good suspicion he'd be the starter. But we just chatted about how he's doing, and all the stuff he went through with his arm. He had a setback with it, but since then he's done well and is feeling great."

Baker posted a 4.15 ERA in his seven seasons with the Twins, and he entered Tuesday's outing with the Rangers with a 6.35 ERA in two appearances, including one start. But Gardenhire said the Twins hadn't seen him pitch in so long that they didn't enter with any advantage.

"We haven't seen him in a while," Gardenhire said. "He had the surgery and some arm injuries. We know him. He pitched here. But we haven't seen him in a long time."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. Alex M. Smith is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.