"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."
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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."