Duensing moves to 'pen as Blackburn returns

Duensing moves to 'pen as Blackburn returns

Duensing moves to 'pen as Blackburn returns
MINNEAPOLIS -- Left-hander Brian Duensing admitted he was frustrated with his results as a starter, but said he's fine with moving back to the bullpen with right-hander Nick Blackburn set to rejoin the rotation on Friday against the Royals.

Duensing fared well as a reliever to start the season -- posting a 3.12 ERA in 34 2/3 innings -- but struggled in four starts, with a 10.13 ERA in 13 1/3 innings. His last outing was his worst, as he gave up six runs over just two innings against the A's on Sunday.

"I was having a lot of success in the bullpen and had a good first half, so I'm not thinking of this as a demotion," Duensing said. "It's just a move that needs to be made and we'll go from there."

Duensing, who has a career 4.41 ERA as a starter compared to a 3.25 ERA as a reliever, added that he prefers starting, but understood Twins manager Ron Gardenhire's decision.

"If I had the preference, I'd like to start, but now is not the time to do it, unfortunately," Duensing said. "If I can continue to come out of the bullpen and get lefties and righties out and throw anywhere from one to three innings, it'll help the team out just as much."

Gardenhire said that Duensing will see some time in long relief because he's stretched out, but that he'll also be used in one-inning stints.

"We're looking for some length out there, so he'll be able to do some of those things, too," Gardenhire said. "Duensing was very good out of the 'pen. He can go left-right. And he's a guy who can stretch out for us so he'll be valuable."

Blackburn gets another chance after his struggles prompted the Twins to send him to Triple-A Rochester two weeks ago.

The right-hander went 4-5 with an 8.10 ERA in 13 starts before he was optioned to Rochester on July 4. But in two starts since for the Red Wings, Blackburn went 2-0, allowing one earned run in 15 innings.

"His first outing was outstanding," Gardenhire said. "Second outing, a few more fly balls than he normally gives up. He pitched very well, threw the ball very well. He was on top of the ball, had good sink and good command of his pitches. He's gotta come up here and do it."

Friday will be Blackburn's 13th career start against Kansas City. He enters the matchup 3-3 with a 4.73 ERA lifetime against the Royals.