figures to have a
key role in the Twins
bullpen. What that
role is depends on
if he can retire
But Reyes is out of baseball now, and Mijares is in Kansas City. There's been more focus this spring on identifying the right-handed components for this bullpen construction project, and for a very good reason: Brian Duensing.
Duensing was a starter in 2011, and ended both 2009 and 2010 in the rotation, but is ticketed for the bullpen after a dismal 2011 in which he simply could not get right-handed hitters out. Righties hit .330/.376/.536 off Duensing; lefties, just .217/.242.280.
Duensing entered camp talking about a correction in his delivery that would help him get right-handers out, and that would be welcome; even a LOOGY has to face some righties. But even if nothing else changes, Duensing's certainly capable of being the guy Gardy wheels out to confront the likes of Prince Fielder, Eric Hosmer or Shin Soo-Choo with two on in the seventh.
Whether one wants to let him face Miguel Cabrera, Billy Butler or Carlos Santana in a winnable game is uncertain.
Dan Gladden has talked during the spring training broadcasts about Duesning pitching multiple innings, but I don't see it. Yes, Duensing has been a starter, and so what? There will be other guys in the pen for long-relief roles -- Anthony Swarzak, most likely, possibly Matt Maloney or Terry Doyle.
The Twins have to be looking at Duensing for a late-inning role. LOOGY seems most likely; while the Twins certainly need at least one alternative to Glen Perkins to set up Matt Capps, they would probably prefer a right-hander, especially with Duensing's struggles to get righties out last year.
Maybe Duensing's right about being able to fix what failed last year. Maybe he is capable of being the second set-up man and take on entire innings in close games. But he's going to have to earn that role, just as Perkins did last season -- by getting outs.
And even if Duensing proves himself overqualified for a specialist role, the Twins will still need that right-handed arm to deal with right-handed power bats.