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Gibson, Blackburn won't open season with Twins

The SportsXchange

The Minnesota Twins are rebuilding their pitching staff in 2013 after it woefully underperformed in 2012. The team made several roster moves recently that indicate the staff continues to be a work in progress.

Two pitchers who exemplify the ever-changing plans this season, rookie Kyle Gibson and veteran Nick Blackburn, will be not be available for Opening Day. But then again, those plans could change.

On March 14, Gibson, a 25-year-old right-hander, was optioned back to Triple-A Rochester. However, he may not be there for long.

"He'll be back," Twins general manager Terry Ryan told the Pioneer Press. "He'll be back. His velocity was impressive. The power on his slider was impressive. He's got a good feel for the changeup. Now it's just a matter of a little damage control and location and a little time.

"He's certainly got a wealth of talent. I don't think there's any question: It's just a matter of when, now."

Meanwhile, Blackburn, who is working his way back from surgery he had in January to repair a torn ligament in his right wrist, may be moving in the opposite direction. On March 11, Blackburn, who has played with the Twins for six seasons, was reassigned to the organization's minor league camp.

Blackburn is only the second major-leaguer to have this particular surgery, and he is hoping that it will clear up problems he has had in his throwing arm since 2010.

Unfortunately, Blackburn is several weeks away from getting on the mound and more than a couple months from getting in a game. By the time that occurs, he could be a free agent. The Twins are hoping for his return, but even Blackburn knows he could be playing somewhere else.

"It would be great to pitch on the major league level this year," Blackburn told the Star Tribune. "I don't expect to. I'm not ruling it out, but I'm not counting on it. I'm going to work as hard as I can, then whatever happens, once I'm healthy, happens."

The only thing that is certain for the Twins this season is that changes are in store on the mound.

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