1.) Scott Baker's illness is all over news, and I have to admit it doesn't look good. Baker will hopefully be able to get a bullpen session in on Thursday and get a start on Saturday or Sunday, but that would seem to be an absolutely best case scenario, and very little with Baker has followed the best case over the last ten days. If he can't meet that schedule, he is unlikely to be able to get his arm strength up to the necessary level to start the season on the big league roster, and he would probably start on the DL. Obviously, for the young guys in camp, Baker's illness may present a chance to get into the rotation at the start of the year -- but for fans, this is a blow. Baker could very well be the best pitcher in the rotation this year, and any time that he misses will be disappointing.
2.) Francisco Liriano still can't throw his slider consistently, and his arm strength isn't up where it needs to be yet. Nonetheless, the Twins seem to still be leaning towards starting the season with him in the rotation, and having him work his way back to full strength at the big league level. I agree with this plan, but if Liriano is really bad early then he should probably be sent down. There's no reason to mess with his confidence any more than it's already been messed with. Maybe that's a reason to have him start the season on a rehab assignment in Florida, but I think that if there's any chance for him to make the roster then he needs to do so. I think he'll improve more quickly that way, even if it does likely mean some poor performances early on.
3.) Philip Humber was finally given a start today, and while he wasn't great he also wasn't that bad. Humber gave up 2 runs on 5 hits in 3 innings of work while striking out 2. I think that keeps him in the running for a spot in the rotation, but his competition stepped up today as well. Nick Blackburn gave up 2 hits in 2 innings, Glen Perkins and Randy Keisler both had perfect innings, and Casey Daigle (a candidate for the bullpen) went 2 innings while allowing just a hit and a walk. We'll see what Kevin Slowey and Brian Bass do the next time they go out, but the big winner here is probably Blackburn, who continues to look sharp.
4.) Brian Buscher's rough patch continued, as he went 0-for-4 today. Meanwhile, longshot roster candidate Matt Tolbert went 3-for-4 and stole a base, bringing his spring average to .308. As I said before, I think Buscher and Randy Ruiz at least bring some power to the bench (more Ruiz than Buscher), while Tolbert is essentially another Harris or Punto off the bench (with offensive ability probably between the two). Still, with Buscher in an absolutely evil slump and Ruiz an unlikely choice, Tolbert might take the position by default if he keeps playing well.
5.) Carlos Gomez went 0-for-3 but stole 2 more bases. Talk about accentuating his biggest weakness while demonstrating his most significant strength! Gomez has stolen 8 bases this spring -- I wonder what he'd do in a full season if he got on base at least reasonably often. More than likely we'll get a chance to find out.