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Ron Gardenhire says Brian Duensing will “absolutely” be in Twins’ rotation

Mar 2, 2011, 4:55 PM EDT

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Brian Duensing tossed two scoreless innings against the Pirates this afternoon, but the bigger news came just before he took the mound when Ron Gardenhire replied “absolutely” when asked if Duensing would be in the Opening Day rotation.

After re-signing Carl Pavano the Twins have six starters for five rotation spots and Duensing has the most relief experience of the bunch, so there was some thought that he’d be the odd man out as the Twins try to strengthen their rebuilt bullpen.

Duensing has made 55 of his 77 career appearances as a reliever, posting a 3.18 ERA in 76 innings, but he’s also 12-3 with a 2.93 ERA in 22 starts and Gardenhire is apparently committed to giving him an opportunity to stick in the rotation.

Assuming the Twins don’t trade Francisco Liriano, that means there are three “locks” for the rotation and Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, and Nick Blackburn are competing for the final two spots. Baker bouncing to the bullpen seems unlikely considering he was the team’s Opening Day starter last season and has made 138 career starts with a 4.32 ERA, but his offseason elbow surgery to remove bone chips could complicate things.

  1. trevorb06 - Mar 2, 2011 at 5:33 PM

    About effing time they do this. I was thinking for the 3rd straight season I’d have to be barking up the ‘make duensing a starter’ tree.

  2. frymn810 - Mar 2, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    Duensing has been a bulldog on the mound as a starter! Kudos RG…. In my opinion “Moonshot (two strike foul baller) Scott” needs to only be doing long relief

  3. Detroit Michael - Mar 3, 2011 at 9:02 AM

    Duensing’s career xFIP right now is only slightly better than Nick Blackburn’s was when the Twins signed him to a $14M extension last March. Yes, that’s the same Nick Blackburn who just one year later might be squeezed out of the rotation.

    I wouldn’t get too enamored of Brian Duensing just yet.

  4. Davidw7 - Mar 3, 2011 at 10:58 AM

    I’m happy that Duensing is in the rotation. He’s earned his stripes and made the place his last year when injuries hit. I like having him in there. I personally would have Slowey and Baker fill out the 5-man team and let Blackey come out of the pen.

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