Duensing still in mix for Royals' bullpen spot

Veteran lefty throwing strikes, benefitting from KC relievers' advice

Duensing still in mix for Royals' bullpen spot

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Royals left-hander Brian Duensing knew this would be a different type of Spring Training.

After seven big league seasons with the Twins, Duensing understood it would be the first time he'd be competing for a roster spot in five years or so. And so far, Duensing remains right in the mix for one of the final bullpen spots. In fact, it could come down to Duensing or Chien-Ming Wang, the surprise of camp.

"I was hoping for this," Duensing said. "I haven't had to compete for a spot for a while, so I didn't know how I'd be able to handle it. I've been throwing the ball well. I was just hoping to give myself a chance and make it as difficult as possible for the front office."

Spring Training: Schedule | Tickets | More info

Duensing, 33, is doing just that. In eight appearances, he is sporting a 2.35 ERA and has struck out 10 hitters in 7 2/3 innings.

"Things have been kind of working correctly," he said. "Last couple of years, I feel I've been fighting myself. Might have been some kind of mechanical thing. For some reason this spring everything has been clicking. I've been throwing a lot of strikes and getting some good results."

Duensing, who had a 4.25 ERA and a 1.377 WHIP last season, isn't sure what is accounting for his turnaround this spring. But he does credit his environment -- Duensing's locker is stationed next to Luke Hochevar and Wade Davis.

"To be honest, I've learned quite a bit from Hochevar and Davis," Duensing said. "We haven't even been talking about myself so much as maybe just something [Zack] Greinke once did, or what Wade is trying to do. I just listen to them talk mechanics all the time. Then, I practice it while playing catch and I feel like I got locked in a little bit.

"I feel like I can repeat my delivery again and throw every pitch I need for a strike."

Duensing has impressed manager Ned Yost.

"He's been throwing nice," Yost said. "Doing a good job. He has come in as a veteran guy and he knows how to pitch. We like what we see out of him."

And now the clock is ticking. Duensing, who has an opt-out clause on Tuesday, has watched several pitchers either be reassigned or released. He is still standing, so to speak.

"You kind of pay attention to the cuts," he said. "But you can't control that so I'm just focusing on what I can do."

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.