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Blackburn to start potential tiebreaker

Blackburn to start potential tiebreaker

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MINNEAPOLIS -- If the Twins are forced to play a one-game tiebreaker with the White Sox on Tuesday at 6:37 p.m. CT to decide the American League Central Division winner, right-hander Nick Blackburn will get the start for Minnesota.

The original plan had been to start right-hander Kevin Slowey in that game. But Twins manager Ron Gardenhire reiterated Sunday that since Slowey has not yet been able to pick up a baseball, he will turn to Blackburn for that game.

Slowey still has swelling and limited mobility in his bruised right wrist, the injury that occurred when he was struck by a Juan Uribe line drive during his start on Thursday.

"I've got to get him to where he can do anything, and right now, that's not the case," Gardenhire said.

Gardenhire said his bigger concern now is if the Twins eventually do clinch the division title, whether Slowey might be ready to start Game 3 or 4 of the American League Division Series.

Playoff rosters have to be set one hour before Game 1 begins. For the eventual AL Central winner, that would be on Thursday, when that ballclub will open the ALDS against the Rays at Tropicana Field. Once those playoff rosters are set, changes cannot be made -- even if a player is injured.

That means a decision on Slowey would have to be made by Thursday, even though his eventual start would not take place for a few days. Game 3 of the ALDS is set for Sunday, Oct. 5.

Gardenhire said that the training staff is confident Slowey will be able to throw a bullpen session by Wednesday. But it's how Slowey looks during that bullpen session that will determine if he will be available for the first round of the playoffs should the Twins clinch that final AL playoff spot.

"You don't want to see a guy to go out there, start throwing the ball, and start altering the way he's throwing it because he's sore," Gardenhire said. "That wouldn't be good, not this late in the season with a chance to hurt your arm or something like that. So we've got a few more steps to see where he's at."

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

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