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Anthony Swarzak replaces injured, ineffective Nick Blackburn in Twins’ rotation

Aug 22, 2011, 1:48 PM EDT

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Nick Blackburn isn’t a particularly effective starting pitcher but the one thing he always does is throw strikes, so when the right-hander walked four of the first eight batters he faced yesterday something was obviously wrong.

He left the game in the second inning and is headed for the disabled list with a strained forearm, which Blackburn described as a “sharp” pain when speaking to reporters afterward.

Anthony Swarzak will replace Blackburn in the Twins’ rotation and it’s tough to imagine him not being an upgrade, as even before yesterday’s abbreviated outing Blackburn had a 7.20 ERA in his last 10 starts.

He also had a 5.00 ERA and .303 opponents’ batting average in 308 innings since the beginning of last season, so injury or not the struggles are nothing new for Blackburn. Minnesota owes Blackburn $4.75 million next season and $5.5 million in 2013, which is why you don’t give unnecessary contract extensions to mediocre pitchers with minuscule strikeout rates.

  1. Detroit Michael - Aug 22, 2011 at 1:53 PM

    Eventually teams will be able to replace the “tough men play through injuries” ethic with a “be honest with the trainer” ethic. Until then, teams will continue to lose games unnecessarily.

    If Blackburn felt a sharp pain, he should have told the trainer or pitching coach or someone.

    • Cris E - Aug 22, 2011 at 2:04 PM

      Well all that is true and I agree with much of it, but to his credit Blackburn has spoken up. He only made it through four outs before he came out of this game, and he did have surgery after last season to clean out a bunch of chips from his elbow. His problem isn’t machismo so much as a periodic and significant loss of sink on his pitches. The MIN organization used to have more trouble with macho (Morneau playing for weeks with that broken thing in his back, Mauer never sitting until he’s messed up, Span not taking much time after he got that concussion a year ago, etc) but since Morneau had to take a year off, and Mauer missed another half season, and Span ended up on the Head DL again, and Kubel missing seven weeks for a bum foot, it almost seems like they’re over compensating and letting guys take whatever they need. It’s a matter of balance, and one the org seems to be struggling with this year.

      • Detroit Michael - Aug 22, 2011 at 2:59 PM

        You may be right in regard to Blackburn specifically. Thanks for the added context.

  2. trevorb06 - Aug 22, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    And Kevin Slowey is still pitching for AAA?

    • hansob - Aug 22, 2011 at 2:33 PM

      Slowey took Baker’s spot when he went down. He started Friday’s game, and will go again on Wednesday.

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