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Updated: July 21st, 2010 10:53am
Notebook: Duensing to replace Blackburn in starting rotation

Notebook: Duensing to replace Blackburn in starting rotation

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- In a move that likely shocks nobody, Brian Duensing will replace Nick Blackburn in the starting rotation, beginning Friday night in Baltimore.

Per third base coach Scott Ullger, who is the acting manager on Wednesday with Ron Gardenhire tending to a family issue, the move is temporary -- a chance for Blackburn to simply take a step back.

Ullger added he doesn't believe Blackburn will be sent to Class-AAA Rochester when Alexi Casilla is activated from the disabled list later this week.

Since stringing together five outstanding starts in May, Blackburn has allowed at least four earned runs in eight of his last nine starts. Over that span, Blackburn's ERA is 9.88, with 18 strikeouts, 14 walks and 11 home runs allowed in 41 innings.

Among qualified pitchers, Blackburn has the highest ERA (6.53) in baseball, as well as the lowest strikeout rate (3.09 K/9). And just incase anyone believes Blackburn has been slightly unlucky this season, his 5.11 xFIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) proves otherwise.

Duensing has made 39 appearances out of the bullpen this season, posting a 1.67 ERA with 27 strikeouts, 12 walks, and three home runs allowed in 43 innings. He last pitched on Sunday, in relief of Blackburn, and threw 47 pitches over four innings.

NOTES

* As mentioned, Gardenhire is tending to a family matter and will not be at the ballpark on Wednesday. Ullger said the team hopes Gardenhire can return for the series opener in Baltimore on Thursday.

* General manager Bill Smith sent an email on Tuesday night providing updates on Clay Condrey (elbow) and Justin Morneau, who saw a concussion specialist on Tuesday.

Per Smith, Morneau "continues to make progress, however, he is not yet ready to resume baseball activities. Justin will not travel with the team to Baltimore and we will continue to monitor his progress."

Nothing groundbreaking there, as we already knew Morneau was unlikely to travel to Baltimore.

Regarding Condrey, Smith said he "returned from his injury rehabilitation assignment in Rochester and will undergo a Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) treatment on his right elbow next Tuesday. The PRP program stimulates healing of the flexor forearm muscles. Estimated recovery is approximately 3 months."

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