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Liriano, Baker and Blackburn discuss success and struggles with Twins

Francisco Liriano, Scott Baker and Nick Blackburn have seen their ups and downs with the Twins. The Pioneer Press caught up with the three pitchers to talk about what has held them back over the last few years.
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Francisco Liriano, Scott Baker and Nick Blackburn have seen their ups and downs with the Twins. The Pioneer Press caught up with the three pitchers to talk about what has held them back over the last few years.

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Injuries were a major problem for the Twins in 2011. That's why the news that Scott Baker and Nick Blackburn are healthy is a step in the right direction for the 2012 Twins. Blackburn says if everyone can stay healthy, the upcoming season "should be a different story."

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Injuries plagued the Twins in 2011 to the tune of 99 losses. Many of the injuries were to starting pitchers. Nick Blackburn was one of them. A forearm injury cut his season short, but he says the Twins "will be right back at the top of the league" if they can stay healthy in 2012.

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Trying to figure out a solution for struggling pitcher Nick Blackburn, the Twins are reportedly weighing options for the righthander, including a trip to Class AAA Rochester, having him skip a start or moving him to the bullpen. Blackburn, who hasn't won since June 22, lost to the Seattle Mariners Friday night to drop his record to 4-9.

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The Twins declined to pick up the $9.25 million option on Scott Baker's contract, but the right-hander says there is mutual interest in him returning to the Twins. Meanwhile, Nick Blackburn had surgery last week to remove a bone chip in his elbow, but the Twins expect him to be ready for spring training.

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Nick Blackburn threw another bullpen session Friday and felt great afterward. That means the right-hander will likely rejoin the Twins’ rotation on Tuesday. If he does it will likely push Anthony Swarzak back into the bullpen. Swarzak was roughed up by the Yankees Thursday night.

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Nobody can figure out why Nick Blackburn's shoulder flared up during his last start on Saturday. He says it's something the trainers have "never seen and I've never dealt with it." But Blackburn felt great throwing a bullpen session on Wednesday and is expected to make his next start on Tuesday.