Blackburn ready to return to mound

Blackburn ready to return to mound

MINNEAPOLIS -- Right-hander Nick Blackburn was back in the Twins' clubhouse on Monday afternoon.

Blackburn is scheduled to start for the Twins on Tuesday, and a roster move will have to be made since he was placed on the Family Medical Emergency List. The expectation has been that right-hander Jeff Manship, who started on Saturday, will be sent back down to Triple-A Rochester, but it's also possible that the Twins could make another move.

Despite having pushed his start back four days due to his time away from the team, Blackburn said he threw a bullpen session at home in Oklahoma on Sunday and feels ready to get back on the mound.

"Obviously it's not typical," Blackburn said of his eight days between starts. "It kind of gets you out of a routine. I threw a bullpen at home yesterday. Hopefully I'll get back out there and be right on track."

Things haven't come easy for Blackburn over his first four starts of the season. The right-hander has allowed 18 earned runs over his 23 2/3 innings. He's delivered only one quality start, which came in his first outing of the year in Anaheim when he allowed three runs over 6 2/3 innings.

Blackburn believes the struggles have been due to him overthrowing and trying to do too much with his pitches. He's been working with pitching coach Rick Anderson in recent bullpen sessions to just relax and not think too much when he's on the mound. It seems a simple solution, but Blackburn said it has taken time for him to get back to how he was feeling last year.

"It's strange to me that I can change so much from year to year for no apparent reason," Blackburn said. "I don't feel as if I'm doing anything differently. At some point I picked up a bad habit, now it's just a matter of getting back into my old habits like I did last year."

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire hopes the time away to spend with his family will also help Blackburn.

"The big thing with Blackie was making sure he took care of his personal business and he did that," Gardenhire said. "He feels a lot better about everything. Maybe that will help him also. When you've got stuff on your mind, it's hard to deal with and it's hard to go out and perform your best. Maybe he has a little clearer mind now. He feels great and so we'll see what happens."