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Blackburn option for Twins' Saturday start

Blackburn option for Saturday

DETROIT -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire won't announce any pitching plans for this weekend's series with the Royals until after the final two games in Detroit are finished.

All three Twins starters for that series are currently listed as TBA. But Nick Blackburn is preparing as if he'll be starting Saturday, which would mark the first time he's made a start in the Majors on three days' rest.

Blackburn hasn't been informed officially whether he'll start that day, but pitching coach Rick Anderson told him Tuesday night that it's a possibility.

The right-hander reiterated what he said after his start in Game 1 of the doubleheader on Tuesday, that he would be happy to pitch on short rest to help the team. When asked Wednesday when he last pitched on short rest, Blackburn said he thought it was back in 2005.

"Of course, it's completely different doing it in Double-A or Triple-A than at this level," Blackburn said. "But I usually don't get too sore after pitching."

Gardenhire said that he won't know his Friday starter until after the series with the Tigers because it will depend on who he uses out of the bullpen. Francisco Liriano, Jeff Manship and Bobby Keppel were all considered candidates for the start, but Gardenhire said they all could be used out of the 'pen before Friday. That was the case with Liriano on Wednesday, as he threw an inning in the 7-2 loss, leaving him unlikely to make the start.

While Blackburn appears to be the most likely choice for Saturday, the Twins have options for Sunday's contest. Brian Duensing, who started the second game of the doubleheader on Tuesday, would be available for the series finale with Kansas City on regular rest, but the Twins could also decide to go with veteran Carl Pavano on three days' rest.

But all of that will depend on where the Twins sit in the division race at the end of this Tigers series, and their manager is focused on these contests.

"We're going to try to get through these," Gardenhire said. "Most important are these ones right here."

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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