Injured Gibson aims to return to rotation Saturday

Injured Gibson aims to return to rotation Saturday

MINNEAPOLIS -- Right-hander Kyle Gibson, who was scratched from his scheduled start on Wednesday with back stiffness, said his back is feeling better, and the Twins are hopeful he'll rejoin the rotation on Saturday.

The Twins have an open spot in the rotation on Saturday after left-hander Kris Johnson was optioned to Triple-A Rochester after his start on Monday. Gibson first felt stiffness in his back while throwing a bullpen session on Monday, and he thought it would loosen up by Wednesday, but it remained stiff enough that he had to be scratched in favor of right-hander Anthony Swarzak.

"It's still pretty tight," Gibson said. "I tried to be as optimistic as possible on Monday after it tightened up, but it never loosened up. As the day went on, it got worse and worse.

"And on Tuesday, I got treatment and tried to be optimistic about being ready to go today. I've been getting treatment on it 24/7, but it's nowhere near ready to compete and be comfortable on the mound."

Gibson said he's never had a similar injury, but he remains hopeful it'll calm down over the next few days with more treatment. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said the tentative plan is for him to start Saturday against the White Sox. If not, the Twins will have to call up a starter.

"We're hoping Saturday," Gardenhire said. "That's our plan for him to start Saturday. But that's only if it works out. We'll go day to day with him until that day comes up. Friday will be a big day for us for him to run around a little bit and tell us."

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