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."
Mauer out of lineup in opener vs. Tigers
MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins catcher Joe Mauer was not in the lineup for a third consecutive day due to a deep bone bruise in his left heel, and it appears unlikely that the catcher will play during this three-game series with the Tigers."He's still sore today, but he's better than yesterday," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "So we're just going day-to-day with him and let him make sure we get this thing well. That's why we brought another catcher up here." Wilson Ramos got the start in place of Mauer for the second straight day and was batting eighth in the lineup. On Sunday, Ramos became the first Twins player since Kirby Puckett on May 8, 1984, to tally four hits in his Major League debut as he went 4-for-5 against the Indians. Mauer was receiving treatment on his heel on Monday afternoon and was not spotted at all in the Twins' clubhouse. Gardenhire said Mauer is staying away from "anything that puts a pounding" on the left heel, which includes running and most baseball activities. So Mauer's activity right now involves aquatherapy and getting treatment on his heel while the Twins wait for all of the soreness to go away. "It doesn't do any good to put him out there too quick and just keep jamming it and have a bad heel for a month," Gardenhire said. "So we're going to let him get well here. Whether it's a day or two, I don't know."
Liriano named AL Pitcher of Month for April
MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano was named the American League Pitcher of the Month on Monday.Liriano has impressed the Twins with his turnaround from a disappointing 2009 season. The 26-year-old left-hander, who came into spring battling for a spot in the rotation, finished the opening month 3-0, with an impressive 0.93 ERA and his performance was reminiscent of his magical 2006 rookie season. The Twins renewed trust in Liriano and his health this season was shown by their decision to allow the starter to pitch the seventh inning in Sunday's win over the Indians. He had thrown 104 pitches when the Twins sent him back out and he threw 19 more, finishing with a career-high 123 pitches. "We're very guarded in pitch counts and all those things," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We talked to [Liriano] and he said he felt great. Then we had a long inning and had people up in the 'pen again, but he said he felt great and he went out there again and he was throwing 95 mph. He felt great all the way through it. We're always concerned about that. But in dire straits, you've got a bullpen that's taxed a little bit and we wanted to try to get seven out of him and he felt like he could do it."
Mijares to see rehab assignment soon
MINNEAPOLIS -- Left-hander Jose Mijares threw a bullpen session on Monday and reported feeling great afterward.Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said that Mijares, who is currently on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left elbow, is scheduled to throw another bullpen session this week and he could be sent on a Minor League rehab assignment possibly as soon as this weekend. "We're not just going to activate him and put him right into a game," Gardenhire said. "We plan on sending him on some sort of rehab so he can [pitch] a couple times. And that's all we'll need is a couple outings to get him going. He's done really well staying at home. He's worked his tail off and his arm feels great. He's really worked hard. He's coming along great."
This series marked the Tigers first trip to Target Field, and the team had not hesitated to its their previous dislike of the Metrodome. But Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he heard nothing but praise from Tigers skipper Jim Leyland about the new ballpark. "He said it was spectacular," Gardenhire said. "It makes it one of the better cities to come to. He's right downtown. He can walk to the ballpark. I think he's really going to enjoy this place. Hopefully not too awful much. But he sure does like the looks of it." ... According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Wilson Ramos, who batted eighth for the Twins on Sunday, became the first catcher in modern MLB history to collect four or more hits in his Major League debut and he was the first to debut with a four-hit game from that low in the batting order since Yankee pitcher Russ Van Atta went 4-for-4 on April 25, 1933.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.