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.
Last night’s Angels-Astros game was a long affair with a bunch of homers and the use of 11 pitchers in all. The Angels used six pitchers and all of that business led to plenty of conferences. Six, in fact, which is their allotment under the new rule capping mound visits. As far as I can tell, that makes the Angels the first team to use up all of their mound visits since the advent of the rule.
Sadly, they did not try to go for a seventh, thereby testing the currently unknown limits of the rule. Umpires have been instructed to not allow additional mound visits, but they cannot issue balls or tackle anyone or anything to enforce it. Presumably, if Maldonado had walked out to talk to Cam Bedrosian about the weather or where he was going to dinner after the game, the home plate umpire would’ve simply done the old Robin Williams English policeman’s bit of yelling “Stop! . . . or I shall yell ‘Stop!’ again!” Maybe a fine would issue later, but we’ll never know.
At least until someone breaks the limit. And we know someone will, right? We should have a betting pool on who does it.