Twins place Scott Baker on disabled list

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Scott Baker is back on track after missing some time due to right elbow inflammation, allowing one run over four innings in a minor league exhibition game earlier today, but the Twins have decided to go the safe route and place him on the 15-day disabled list.

Baker’s DL-stint was backdated to March 27, so he is eligible to return as soon as April 12. Barring any setbacks, he should be ready to go around then.

Jason Marquis is away from the team right now as he tends to his seven-year-old daughter, who was recently involved in a serious bicycle accident, so Carl Pavano, Francisco Liriano and Liam Hendriks are expected to start during the first series of the season against the Orioles. Baker was originally penciled in to start the home opener on April 9 against the Angels, but now Nick Blackburn will get the call.

Baker, 31, posted a career-best 3.14 ERA and 123/32 K/BB ratio over 134 2/3 innings last season. However, he was limited to just four starts and two relief appearances after the All-Star break due to a strained flexor muscle in his elbow.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉