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Updated: September 24th, 2013 11:45pm
Notebook: Mike Pelfrey might be best served by making move to bullpen

Notebook: Mike Pelfrey might be best served by making move to bullpen

by Brandon Warne
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Mike Pelfrey won't pitch again this season for the Minnesota Twins, so it's only natural to wonder if the free-agent-to-be will return in 2014.

Admittedly, Pelfrey hasn't thought about it much. And while the righthander would like to remain a starter as he moves into his next contract, he said he would be willing to move to the bullpen if that's what is asked of him.

But it certainly wouldn't be his preference.

"I haven't even thought about it, trying to be a reliever," Pelfrey said Tuesday. "Obviously my first option would be to be a starter. I've come out of the bullpen a couple times, but it's been a long, long time since I've done that."

Pelfrey worked one game apiece in relief in 2010 and 2011, and a pair of games in his first extended period with the Mets in 2007. Those four appearances amounted to a combined 4.2 innings pitched, or about 0.4 percent of his career innings.

To that end, Pelfrey cited his lack of bullpen experience as why he thinks it would be a risk for a team to have him work in relief. But with Pelfrey's career average fastball of 92.4 miles-per-hour -- the same velocity he posted in 2013 -- the typical 2 miles-per-hour bump that many starters get when moving to the bullpen could put Pelfrey into elite territory in terms of heat.

Glen Perkins saw a 3 mile-per-hour increase on his fastball; Brian Duensing experienced a full tick plus on his. That kind of boost to Pelfrey's velocity could help him become a Luke Hochevar type.

Hochevar, a failed starter whom the Royals picked No. 1 in 2006, has taken to relief with aplomb this year with a 1.98 ERA (5.11 career) and a now-95.6 miles-per-hour fastball. That's three full ticks above his career mark. Pelfrey, like Hochevar, has the top-10/college ace pedigree.

Ultimately, Pelfrey conceded that if he has no choice, he would take the plunge.

"Ultimately, in the end if that's what I have to do, then that's what I have to do," Pelfrey said. "But my preference is to start."

A pitcher with similar stats to Pelfrey (5-13, 5.19 ERA) this season, Phil Hughes (4-13, 5.07) of the New York Yankees, already has stated that he would be willing to sign this winter as a reliever. He figures to garner plenty of interest from the Twins, as his underlying peripheral statistics carry a bit more projection than Pelfrey's.

Pelfrey understands why a move to the bullpen would even be discussed, but he also feels he made good progress throughout the season, and he feels good health-wise as the season comes to an end.

"I felt like I made a lot of progress from spring training and early April to July and August," Pelfrey said. "I think I kind of wore down in September, but I thought I made progress just getting on the field."

But if Pelfrey felt fine physically all season long, he's realistic about how the season played for him. 

"Obviously the year didn't go as well as I would have liked it to have, but there's nothing I can do about it now," he said. "I need to just go to the offseason, and work hard to be better next year. It was good, even coming off surgery. I knew it wasn't going to be easy.

"I still set my goals pretty high. I obviously didn't reach many of them. Innings-wise, I was 130-plus innings. That's the lowest I've thrown in a full season. My ERA was the highest of my career. I fell short in a lot of areas."

Pelfrey has expressed a desire to return to Minnesota next season, but it's unclear at this point if the Twins want him back.

Injury updates

* Outfielder Oswaldo Arcia remains day-to-day because of a right knee bruise. Arcia was scratched from Monday's lineup after sustaining the injury by running into the outfield wall while taking fungoes. The outfielder was moving around gingerly following Monday's game, but according to general manager Terry Ryan, Arcia felt somewhat better Tuesday.

* Starting pitcher Samuel Deduno (shoulder) will do his rehab work at the team facility in Fort Myers, Fla., at the conclusion of the season. Deduno underwent an arthroscopic cleanup procedure one week ago Wednesday on his throwing (right) shoulder, and by the looks of it, it was a minimally invasive procedure. The only wound Deduno has to show for it is obscured by what looks like a pair of regular-sized bandages.

Weird stat leaders

Here are the Twins' leaders in various categories as the season winds to a close:

Groundball double plays hit into: Brian Dozier/Ryan Doumit - 12

Hit by pitch: Josh Willingham - 14

Sacrifice bunts: Pedro Florimon - 5

Caught stealing: Dozier - 7

Infield hits: Dozier - 18

Bunt hits: Florimon - 7

Strikeout percent: Chris Colabello - 31.0%

Line drive rate: Alex Presley - 29.7%

Popup rate: Presley - 20.0%

Wild pitches: Samuel Deduno - 8

Balks: Deduno - 2

Hit batsmen: Deduno - 9

Holds: Jared Burton - 27

Blown saves: Burton - 5

Intentional walks issued: Burton/Josh Roenicke - 5

Walk rate: Roenicke - 12.6%

Line drive rate allowed: Brian Duensing - 27.7%

Balls thrown (non-strikes): Mike Pelfrey - 1,066

Pitches thrown: Kevin Correia - 2814

Strand rate (percent of baserunners stranded on base): Glen Perkins - 83.3%

Shutouts: Andrew Albers - 1 (only one on entire team)

Brandon Warne covers the Minnesota Twins for 1500ESPN.com. He has also contributed as a baseball analyst for Fangraphs.com and BaseballProspectus.com
Email Brandon | @Brandon_Warne
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