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Updated: March 2nd, 2011 3:15pm
Live from Florida, Day 14: Brian Duensing is a starter

Live from Florida, Day 14: Brian Duensing is a starter

by Phil Mackey
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BRADENTON, Fla. -- A rundown of the news, notes and quotes from Wednesday at Minnesota Twins spring training:

Catching up with ... Brian Duensing

Left-hander Brian Duensing threw two scoreless innings in his spring debut Wednesday, allowing two hits and a walk while striking out two.

Duensing said he didn't sleep much on Tuesday night because he was a bit nervous.

Odd, considering manager Ron Gardenhire has essentially taken all of the pressure off Duensing this spring. The skipper told reporters before Wednesday's game against the Pirates that Duensing has earned the right to be in the starting rotation.

News to Duensing?

"Kind of. Not really," Duensing said. "(Pitching coach Rick Anderson) a couple days ago asked me if I was tired in September last year. I said I kind of hit the wall for a little bit for a couple starts. He told me, 'You need to start. That's what I told Gardy. You need to be in the rotation, so plan on being in the rotation.'

"A lot can happen, so I just took it with a grain of salt. But that's good to know."

In 13 starts last season, Duensing posted a 3.05 ERA with 51 strikeouts, 22 walks and eight home runs allowed in 85 2/3 innings. As of right now, the Twins have six starting pitchers -- Duensing, Francisco Liriano, Carl Pavano, Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn and Kevin Slowey -- all competing for five spots.

As long as Gardenhire doesn't change his mind, it appears as if the battle is between Blackburn and Slowey.

"The only thing I don't want to happen is I don't want myself to relax now that I have a spot on the team, as opposed to trying to really earn a spot and trying to be better every time. That's something I'm kind of worried about, but I feel like if I concentrate on not doing that, I shouldn't."

Nishioka to try SS

Gardenhire said Wednesday that Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Alexi Casilla will flip-flop positions for the next two games on Thursday and Friday.

Nishioka will move from second base to shortstop, and Casilla will move from shortstop to second base.

Gardenhire is trying to figure out where the best fit is for each of the two players.

Who's hot

• 3B Danny Valencia: After going 2-for-3 with two doubles and two RBIs on Wednesday, Valencia is now 4-for-7 to start the spring.

Valencia also made a diving stab on defense in the third inning with Matt Capps on the mound to rob Andrew McCutchen of an RBI double.

• 2B Luke Hughes: Hughes launched a solo home run over the left-field fence off Joel Hanrahan Wednesday for his second blast of the spring. Hughes is now 4-for-8 with two home runs and four RBIs this spring. If he can stay healthy, Hughes will almost certainly contribute to the big-league squad as a right-handed bat off the bench sometime this season.

Who's not

The Twins get a free pass in this category on Wednesday.

Numbers game

.162: The batting average for left-handed hitters against Duensing in 2010. He also held lefties to a .217 on-base percentage and .239 slugging percentage.

Health watch

• 1B Justin Morneau (concussion) continues to progress, but was not cleared for game action after visiting with a doctor in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

• OF Michael Cuddyer (foot) had the wart on his left foot removed Tuesday in Minnesota. "I went into the trainer's room, and they were like 'yeah, we're flying you to Minnesota,'" Cuddyer said. "It was a whirlwind. I flew out, came back (Tuesday night), and here I am.

"I wouldn't even really call it an operation, I'd just call it like a treatment. It was probably 15 minutes.

Cuddyer said he won't be able to start running or doing anything baseball-related for at least a week, but doctors told him he would be back in action within 14 days.

• OF Delmon Young (toe) will likely see his first action on Saturday at Port Charlotte against the Rays.


"I thought the world was ending when I saw the wind was blowing in."
-- Duensing, joking about the wind McKechnie Field in Bradenton, which frequently blows out. Duensing said he has a poor track record at the Pirates' spring ballpark.

On deck

The Twins travel to Sarasota on Thursday for a match-up with the Orioles. Right-hander Carl Pavano is scheduled to start.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd