Baker was one of three players to be sent down to the Minor Leagues on Friday, as the right-handed pitcher was optioned to Triple-A Rochester. Baker never really got an opportunity to earn a spot in the rotation this spring, as he was limited in his time on the mound and found trouble in the opportunities he did get, racking up an 8.71 ERA in six outings (10 1/3 innings).Despite getting sent down a year after earning a roster spot, Baker said he's learned from the trials and tribulations he suffered last season when he was shuffled between Rochester and Minnesota. "I know for a fact that I'm a different pitcher, a different person," Baker said. "Obviously it's a work in progress and I have to keep working on it. I have no doubt in my mind that me getting sent down is not going to determine who I am and what I'm capable of doing." Infielder Alexi Casilla and infielder/outfielder Garrett Jones were also optioned to Rochester on Friday. The reason for Casilla's early departure is that the club wants him to start getting regular playing time in the infield should they need to call him up to play full-time if shortstop Jason Bartlett or second baseman Luis Castillo were to get injured. Slow starter: Spring has never been a particularly strong time for right-hander J.D. Durbin. This year hasn't been the exception either and that doesn't spell well for Durbin at a time where the pressure is on the pitcher to perform because he is out of options. Durbin continued his struggles Friday. He threw two innings and gave up three runs on five hits while walking two and striking out three. His ERA for the spring now sits at 9.00 over a total of seven innings. Durbin admits it's been frustrating over the past few years to consistently be plagued by slow starts. The pitcher blamed a part of that this spring on a bit of adrenaline that came from getting back on the mound after having eight months off due to the nerve damage he suffered in his right biceps. "Controlling that [adrenaline] is tough, especially when I get back out there every four or five days," Durbin said. "I'd like to get on the mound a little more." Gardenhire felt that the situation will just have to play itself out over the final week of spring. "J.D. just had a hard time with his pitching [Friday]," Gardenhire said. "He was just kind of up [in the strike zone] with everything and behind [in the count]. He hasn't been out there that much and that's probably my fault, not getting him enough innings right now. We'll get that all straightened out and just see how he responds on the mound." Twins tidbits: Nick Punto (sore right hip flexor) will be out at least a few more days as the muscle continues to bother him a bit. Punto has not played since Sunday, but said that if it were the regular season he would be playing through the injury. But since its still spring, the Twins staff doesn't want him to risk pushing the injury further along. It's not something considered to be a disabled list possibility, but if it lingers into next week, Gardenhire said that could change. ... Jeff Cirillo made his debut at shortstop for the Twins as he started Friday's game. ... The Twins are now left with 38 players in camp -- 16 pitchers, 10 infielders and seven outfielders. Coming up: The Twins will host the Pirates in a 12:05 p.m. CT game Saturday. Right-hander Carlos Silva will get the start as he faces off against Pittsburgh right-hander Ian Snell.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less