Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 4/15/12
MINNEAPOLIS The Minnesota Twins already lost one starting pitcher for the season, so naturally the worst was feared when Nick Blackburn left his start early during Saturday's game against Texas. Blackburn was diagnosed with right posterior shoulder stiffness on Saturday, but Twins general manager Terry Ryan said Sunday that the MRI on Blackburn's shoulder looked "normal." "He came in this morning and he feels OK," Ryan said. "We're going to take this a day at a time here and see exactly how he responds." Blackburn left Saturday's game in the fifth inning with a 2-1 count to the Rangers' David Murphy. After a brief meeting on the mound with manager Ron Gardenhire, pitching coach Rick Anderson and athletic trainer Dave Pruemer, Blackburn walked off the mound and into the dugout. Left-hander Brian Duensing came in from the bullpen to relieve Blackburn. But Blackburn's MRI was a bit of good news for the Twins, who earlier this week lost Scott Baker for the season when it was announced he would undergo surgery on his right elbow that requires six months of rehab. Blackburn had a solid spring for the Twins, posting a 2.12 ERA with 12 strikeouts and four walks in 17 innings of Grapefruit League action. He allowed five runs on five hits in his first start of the 2012 season but pitched better than the box score indicated. In Saturday's start, he allowed two runs on seven hits before leaving with the shoulder injury. He's listed as day-to-day. "All indications are that he's going to be OK," Ryan said. "But we're certainly going to be cautious. ... The MRI didn't show any irregularities or anything, so that's good. So now it's up to how Nick feels and how Gardy and Rick feel about putting him out there." If everything goes OK with Blackburn's next bullpen session on Tuesday, he'll be in line to start Thursday in New York, one day after Jason Marquis is set to make his Twins debut. Marquis has been pitching with Double-A New Britain as he continues to build up arm strength after missing time in spring training to be with his young daughter, who was injured in a serious bicycle accident. In two starts in New Britain, Marquis was 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in 14 innings of work. He struck out 11 batters without surrendering a walk. Thomas thrown into the mix in first game with Twins The Twins didn't waste any time getting new outfielder Clete Thomas into the lineup, as he played right field and batted eighth Sunday, one day after Minnesota claimed him off waivers from Detroit. "He's going to go right out there and play right field today," Gardenhire said before Sunday's game. "He's excited. He's pumped up. Another speed guy that can run around. He can play all the positions out there." Thomas, 28, played 145 games with the Tigers in 2008-09 and 2012, although he appeared in just three games this season with no at-bats before Detroit designated him for assignment. The Twins originally drafted Thomas in 2002, but he opted to play college baseball at Auburn. He was later drafted by the Tigers in 2005. "He can do about everything you're looking for in an outfielder," Ryan said of Thomas. "We've seen him quite a bit. The one thing he can do, he can hit a ball a long way. He probably might strike out a little bit more than you'd like, but that comes with some power." Follow Tyler Mason on Twitter.
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