Baker's health an issue

Baker's health an issue

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Right-hander Scott Baker arrived at the Twins' clubhouse on Tuesday morning and reported to be feeling much better.

It was a positive sign after Baker had appeared weak and fatigued during a bullpen session he threw on Monday, causing some concern over whether he would be ready to pitch the Twins' fifth game of the season.

But despite Baker's assertions that he's on his way to getting better, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he remained "leery" of whether the pitcher can come back so soon.

"You are still dealing with the fact that he's very weak and he doesn't have a lot of energy," Gardenhire said. "To feel good walking in the clubhouse is one thing. To feel good when you start coming out and getting after it, that's when you'll see a little more of where you are at."

Baker will pitch in a Minor League contest on Wednesday. The Twins didn't want him to throw in a Grapefruit League game in case they need to backdate him for a disabled-list stint.

Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson will both be on hand to watch Baker throw. They'll be watching to see his stamina in hopes of making a decision on whether he can be ready at the start of the season, Gardenhire said.

If everything goes well in Baker's start on Wednesday, he'll make another Minor League start on Sunday and could be ready to pitch on April 4 against the Royals.

While Baker's status is uncertain and the Twins are waiting until Friday to determine if Francisco Liriano is ready to rejoin the rotation, Gardenhire said that the first three games of the season will be started by Livan Hernandez, Boof Bonser and Kevin Slowey -- in that order.

Baker has not thrown in a Grapefruit League contest since March 8. He lasted just two innings in that start due to a strained lat muscle. The muscle was healing, but Baker's progress was then derailed again on March 16 because of a bout with the flu. Baker said he lost 12 pounds over the course of three days, but he's gained about five pounds of it back.

"I'm starting to get my appetite back and my energy back," Baker said. "I ate a normal breakfast today, and the mornings have been the toughest times so far."

The flu has been going around the Twins' clubhouse, and shortstop Adam Everett is the latest player to be affected by it. Everett missed Monday's game and still had not returned to the team on Tuesday morning.

Gardenhire said he got a message from Everett on Tuesday saying that he was starting to feel better and should be back with the team on Wednesday. It may take a few days for Everett to fully regain his health, but the expectation is still for him to be ready for Opening Day.

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.