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Friday Notes

6 Jan

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Good morning! I just wanted to post a few quick notes on an early Friday morning. I fell asleep early last night (not a bad thing!) and got up early this morning, so here are a few notes.

  • First of all, congratulations to Brian Duensing and his wife on the birth of their first child yesterday, a daughter.
  • I was quite surprised last night to read that the Twins decided to release minor leaguers RHP Cesar Ciurcina, RHP Todd Van Steensel, and RHP Pedro Guerra.
    • Ciurcina was a guy who was terrific in the DSL and GCL and pretty bad last year in Elizabethton.
    • I’m a little surprised by the Van Steensel decision. He didn’t have a great 2011 at Elizabethton, but at times, he pitched well. The strange thing, according to Jeremy Nygaard, is that Baseball America posted the releases at 6 p.m. last night central time. At 8 p.m. central time, Van Steensel, who is in Australia, tweeted that he just learned that the Twins released him. Strange timing. (Be sure to continue following Van Steensel’s Clubhouse Chronicles blog)
    • I am very surprised by the decision to release Pedro Guerra. He began each of the past two seasons at Elizabethton and advanced to Beloit where he pitched well.
  • Read also that the Orioles signed former Twins minor league catcher, Australian Allan de San Miguel.  
  • Happy Birthday to Anthony Slama today! Also, congratulations to Slama and his girlfriend on their recent engagement. Slama’s soon-to-be brother-in-law, Collin Balester was traded earlier this offseason to the Detroit Tigers. (This is Page 6 kind of stuff, huh?)
  • MLB is conducting its Rookie Career Development Program this week. According to Jonathan Mayo, the Twins sent Joe Benson, Chris Parmelee and Rene Tosoni to the conference.
  • Phil Mackey wrote an article on the Twins payroll that I find myself completely agreeing with. Most Twins fans probably don’t.
  • Former Twins Kevin Slowey and R.A. Dickey began their trek to reach the peak of Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro. The two are doing it for a charity that rescues girls from enslavement in the sex trade and fights human trafficking.
  • Those in the Beloit area will want to consider attending the 8th Annual Snappers Hot Stove Banquet on January 19th. Guests will include Twins GM Terry Ryan, Senior Director of Minor League Operations Jim Rantz, and Twins outfielder Ben Revere. MLB Umpire Marty Foster will also be speaking at the event. For more details on the event and to see how to secure your tickets, click here.
  • The Twinkie Town 2012 Top 50 vote is up to Round 24. Be sure to get your votes in. The voting is somewhat different than mine, and that’s a good thing because no prospect lists that go as deep as 50 should be exactly the same! Great discussion in the comments too!
  • I always have to encourage people to follow me on Twitter, or at least bookmark my Twitter Feed page. Why? Because I tweet quite a bit, and often I don’t wind up blogging all of the information that gets tweeted. I retweet a lot of other people’s blog entries and articles for people to read. One such article was Roger’s Minor League Report from last Saturday. He had a sit-down with Minnesotan, former Gophers and Twins 2011 draft pick AJ Pettersen. AJ is one of the really good people, and Roger wrote about their discussion.
  •  By the way, my plan is to be at Twins Fest on January 27 and 28. I’ve enjoyed attending the event for several year and now enjoy meeting up with other bloggers and fans. It’s also fun to chat with the players and the minor leaguers. If you’re heading down to the Metrodome (and it is great that the Twins are back there for Twins Fest this year after the roof collapse a year ago), let me know!
  • One thing that I would love to eventually attend, and won’t be able to this year, is the 2012 Diamond Awards. This year, it is on Thursday, January 26th, at Target Field. It’s a great even that provides dollars for the University of Minnesota’s innovative research and patient care in ataxia, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and ALS.
  • Check out Parker’s blog on A team building exercise.
  • Quick Update on the Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2012 – I also wanted to let people know that I hope to have the book available in the next three weeks. My goal is always to have it available so that people can bring it to Twins Fest and get it signed by players. It is definitely coming together, and I’m nearly to the point of doing the final editing and production. I hope to have more information for you next week, but if you have any questions, please feel free to ask!
  • There are a ton of great Twins blogs, and instead of me doing a Link blog today, I’ll encourage you to check out the NoDak Twins Fan’s Friday Links-N-Thinks and Aaron Gleeman’s Link-O-Rama.

That’s it for today! Feel free to leave comments or more links/topics in the Comments section.


Twins Notes

3 Jul

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The Twins enjoyed their off day on Thursday. It was the first time this season that they have been two games above .500. Now, the players may have rested on the off day, but the front office was plenty busy.

First, the Twins released reliever Luis Ayala. Ten days earlier, the Twins had designated him for assignment. Although a couple of teams, namely Pittsburgh and Florida, expressed interest, but a trade was not able to be worked out. He was released, and later in the day, he signed a contract with the Florida Marlins.

In a second transaction, the Twins outrighted Sean Henn to AAA Rochester and promoted Brian Duensing. Henn, being out of options, had to clear waivers to be sent back to Rochester. He did, and remains in the Twins organization. The promotion of Duensing is somewhat surprising. Being left-handed, he does give Ron Gardenhire a second left-hander in the bullpen. You could argue that Anthony Swarzak was much more deserving of promotion as he has been superb for the Red Wings since his demotion in mid-June. Of course, Swarzak was just named as the Red Wings lone representative in the AAA All-Star Game.

LaVelle E. Neal reports that the Twins have offered a contract to Dominican 16 year old SS Miguel Angel Sano. However, the contract is contingent upon an investigation by Major League Baseball into weather Sano is actually 16 years old. The Twins, Pirates and Baltimore Orioles are the three teams said to be most interested. The Twins and Pirates apparently have a very strong relationship with him. The contract is rumored to be anywhere from $2.5 million to over $4.25 million.

Travis Talks provides his June Awards for the Twins. Joe Nathan had an incredible month. In 11.2 innings (12 games), he gave up no runs on four hits. He walked one and struck out 18. But he wasn’t the only bullpen arm to impress. R. A. Dickey’s ERA for June was 0.67. Matt Guerrier’s was 0.86. Jason Kubel was the easy choice for Twins Player of the Month in June.

Josh Johnson provides a review of all six Twins minor league affiliates, including a selection for hitter and pitcher of the month for each team. Nick Nelson looked back at his preseason Top 10 Twins Prospects to see how they are performing through June.

Consistent release point is important to all pitchers, but Over the Baggy’s Parker Hageman shows us why and how release point is important for Scott Baker.

Brian, at the Twins Examiner site, tracks the young career of Aaron Hicks.

At Jim Mandelaro’s Extra Bases blog, he takes a look into the Life of a GM, through the eyes of Twins GM Bill Smith, who has lost 40 pounds since February.

Baseball Intellect takes a look at the Mechanics of Kevin Slowey to determine why he is able to pitch with so much control.

Slowey will take the mound on Friday night for the Twins as they start a three game series at the Metrodome against the division-leading Detroit Tigers.    


Wednesday – Hitter of the Day – Tyler Ladendorf & Danny Rams, Elizabethton Twins

Wednesday – Pitcher of the Day – Mike McCardell, Ft. Myers Miracle


Wednesday – Rochester, Buffalo – Game Postponed by Rain. The Red Wings are set to send Jeff Manship to the mound against Oliver Perez in a game that is expecting over 20,000 fans in attendance. What a great atmosphere!


Wednesday – New Britain, Portland – Game Postponed by Rain.


Wednesday – Game 1 – Ft. Myers 3, Lakeland 1 Tyler Robertson started this game and threw two shutout innings. He gave up two hits, walked two and struck out two. But during the top of the third inning, there was a rain delay. When play resumed, Joe Testa came in and struck out five in two scoreless innings to get the Win. Loek Van Mil threw two shutout innings. Blair Erickson recorded his ninth save. He struck out two and gave up an unearned run in the seventh. The offense managed just six hits. Steve Singleton hit his fifth home run. Deibinson Romero hit his 16th double.  

Wednesday – Game 2 – Ft. Myers 4, Lakeland 1 Mike McCardell started and finished the second game. The righty gave up one run on seven hits in seven innings. He walked one and struck out nine to improve to 8-5. Steve Singleton was 2-4 with his fourth steal. Mark Dolenc went 2-3. Chris Parmelee hit his 10th home run, a two run homer in the 8th that gave the team a two run lead. In the ninth, Nick Romero extended the lead with a solo home run, his third of the year.     


Wednesday – Beloit 1, Cedar Rapids 5 – The Snappers managed just two hits in this game. James Beresford had a double. Dominic de La Osa went 0-1 with two walks and his third stolen base. Dan Osterbrock started and gave up three runs on ten hits and three walks over five innings. He struck out five. Curtis Leavitt went two innings and gave up one run on one hit. He walked one and struck out three. Matt Williams gave up an unearned run over the final two innings.


Wednesday – Elizabethton 12, Bristol 4 – The E-Twins improved to 9-1 in this game. Tyler Ladendorf and Danny Rams were the hitting stories again, both going 3-5. Ladendorf knocked his fourth and fifth doubles. Rams hit his fifth home run. Tobias Streich hit his second homer, and Josmil Pinto hit his fourth homer. Reggie Williams went 2-4. Angelo Sanchez got his second win. In six innings, he gave up two runs on six hits and a walk. He struck out six. Ramon Acosta gave up two unearned runs on two hits in two innings. Tony Davis struck out two in his inning.

Interesting Note – We often wonder why the Twins draft so many catchers, and what they will do with all of them. Well, of the nine players in the E-Twins starting lineup, four of them were drafted as catchers. Danny Rams was the Twins 2nd round pick in 2007. He played 1B in this game. Josmil Pinto was the DH in this game. Chris Hermann played LF in this game. And Tobias Streich actually was the catcher.  


Wednesday – GCL Twins – No Game Scheduled.

Please feel free to Send me an e-mail, or leave your questions or comments here.

More Moves to be Made?

7 May

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HELP – I need your help for a blog posting for tomorrow. I want to encourage everyone to send me a few True/False Statements, or Over/Under scenarios. For instance, e-mail me and say, “True or False, Danny Valencia will be the Twins opening day 3B when the team opens up Target Field next year.” Or “Over/Under – Joe Mauer’s Batting Average – .320.” Send up to five, and I will answer them on this site tomorrow. I think it could be a lot of fun, so please take a minute and e-mail me your questions. I appreciate your help.

YOUR VOICES – Last night, I wrote up and posted my article on a topic that, as you would guess, is already annoying to me. But it’s timely and it is regional, so it kind of makes sense. Please check it out and be sure to leave you comments. Then be sure to read the article on the same topic that Darren “Doogie” Wolfson wrote there.

On Wednesday, the Twins made a roster move by shipping Alexi Casilla back down the AAA Rochester. They promoted Matt Tolbert back to the big leagues. Could more moves be on the horizon?

If you think that Alexi Casilla was the team’s biggest problem, you might be in for some major disappointment. Clearly, the biggest issue on this team right now it pitching. Entering the season, the assumption was that the starting five would be a cornerstone of the team. Through the first month their top pitcher, Scott Baker, is 0-4 with a 9.15 ERA. The #2 starter, Francisco Liriano, is 1-4 with a 5.30 ERA. Kevin Slowey is 4-1, but his ERA is 5.50. Nick Blackburn is 2-2 with a 5.19 ERA. Glen Perkins has been the team’s top starter so far this season, and he is 1-2 with a 3.34 ERA.

None of the five are currently in jeopardy of losing their starting jobs. In reality, I don’t think that they should even consider a move of one of the five starters for at least another month.

So, let’s get to the bullpen. Joe Nathan had one blown save, but overall, he continues to be one of the best closers in the game. I think we can say that Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier and Jose Mijares have pretty secure jobs. Brian Duensing, Philip Humber and Juan Morillo have already been shipped back to Rochester. Luis Ayala has been quite disappointing in a late-inning role. He has given up 20 hits and three walks in 13.1 innings. Craig Breslow was being counted on as a lefty out of the bullpen, and he has not been good at all. In 9.2 innings, he has given up seven hits and walked ten hitters. His two innings tonight actually significantly improved his overall performance. R.A. Dickey was brought in to be a long reliever. When he has pitched in that role, and in his one start, he was just fine. But when put into more difficult situations, it hasn’t gone well.  

So, I think it is fair to say that Luis Ayala, Craig Breslow and R.A. Dickey are three guys who will be watched a little more closely in the coming weeks. Let’s look at some pitchers in the upper minor leagues who could be considered for a promotion:

  • Sean Henn – The Twins signed the now-28 year old lefty this offseason. He is currently the default closer for the Red Wings. Last year with the Padres, he gave up 11 hits and walked nine in 9.1 innings. So far this year with Rochester, he has thrown 17.1 innings out of the bullpen. His ERA is 1.04 and he has struck out 23 batters. He has given up 11 hits, but he has walked ten batters. As good as he has been, the walk rate is a little alarming.
  • Brian Duensing – Since returning to the Red Wings, he has made three starts. He has thrown just 13 innings, and is 1-1 with a 6.23 ERA. He has given up 16 hits, walked six and struck out just seven. He certainly hasn’t warranted a promotion at this point and can use the work at AAA.
  • Mike Gosling – The 28 year old lefty is working out of the Red Wings bullpen. He is 3-1 with a 4.96 ERA. In 16.1 innings, he has given up 16 hits. He has walked seven and struck out 21. The hit rate is OK. The walk rate is slightly high. Together, that is a WHIP of just over 1.40. He’s probably just a notch behind Henn at this point.
  • Philip Humber/Juan Morillo – Both recently were sent down to the Red Wings. Both have done well in very limited time there and just need to get more work in.
  • Anthony Swarzak – the 22 year old has started out great for Rochester. He is 2-3 with a 2.03 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP. In 31 innings, he has given up 23 hits and walked just six while striking out 23. He’s allowed just one home run. Swarzak is young and he’s a starter. I think he needs to just keep working and starting at AAA for now. Let’s see how he is doing in four to six weeks.
  • Anthony Slama – So many seem to think that the 25 year old is too good for his level. He certainly was last year. This year at AA New Britain, he is 2-0 with five saves. His ERA is just 2.63. In 13.1 innings, he has 22 strikeouts. However, he also has nine walks and 12 hits allowed, so his AA WHIP is at 1.54. That doesn’t scream “Promotion” to me!
  • Rob Delaney – 24 year old Delaney spent half of the 2008 season in New Britain and did great. He is back there to start this season. He is 1-1 with a 2.89 ERA. In 18.2 innings, he has given up 21 hits, but he has walked just two while striking out 22. His WHIP is 1.22. He’s been good, and that K:BB ratio is amazing. I think he should be moved up to Rochester in the next month, and then see how he is doing at that time.  

So, in reality, these are the options for promotion to the Twins, especially since Duensing and Swarzak are the only ones on the 40 man roster. None of them present a significant improvement over Ayala, Breslow or Dickey. So, in my mind, there is zero reason to make a move at this time. Again, we should probably re-evaluate these names and their numbers in another three or four weeks to see where things are.

The Twins Geek tells us that Carlos Gomez has nine at bats over the teams past twelve games.  I believe that we all believe that his ceiling is still very high, but he has a lot to learn. To learn, he needs to play. He needs consistent at bats. He needs time in the outfield, and he needs bunting opportunities and situations and such. Right now, his role with the Twins has been to start about one in four games, and do some pinch running and late inning defense.

To play more, and improve himself as a player, I believe Gomez should go to AAA. But if he goes down to AAA, I think that the Twins need to replace him with another outfielder. The three outfielders will need to start, and Jason Kubel will be the DH, so they will still need a backup outfield. That player should be a guy who can run, play good defense at all three outfield positions and at least be adequate at the plate. Here are the options:

  • Jason Pridie – The 25 year old outfielder can play three outfield positions very well. He can run very well. He can hit at the top of an order, but also has enough pop to hit some extra base hits. He strikeouts a ton. He just ended a 16 game hitting streak, and is hitting .255/.279/.292 in 106 at bats.
  • Dustin Martin – Although Martin just turned 25, the organization seems to look at him as a potential starting outfielder, so he should play every day. He can play CF, but may have enough bat to play the corners as well. He really impressed last year at New Britain, then in the Arizona Fall League, and then during training camp. At Rochester, he is hitting .308/.366/.374 with nine steals.
  • David Winfree – he is still just 23 years old and in his first season at AAA. He is hitting .272/.277/.457. Ten of his 22 hits have been for extra bases. He has one walk and 18 strikeouts, but he is a right-handed bat that could provide some pop off the bench. Can only play RF, and not necessarily very well.
  • Luke Hughes – Although he has only played 3B this season for the Red Wings, he spent plenty of time in LF and CF last year. Another right handed bat with some pop, Hughes is hitting .293/.392/.573 with 11 extra base hits.

Dustin Martin and Luke Hughes have futures as everyday types of players. Those guys should not be playing just once or twice a week, not until September. David Winfree is a right handed bat with pop, but he doesn’t fill the need for the role (defense/speed). Martin and Winfree are not on the 40 man roster at this time. Jason Pridie really fits the role of fourth or fifth outfielder perfectly. He’s got talent. He’s proven in the past that he can hit a little bit. He’s very fast. He’s very good defensively, and he can play all three outfield positions. If Gomez is actually only going to be a role player with the Twins at this early point in the season, he needs to go to AAA, and if he does, I would promote Jason Pridie.

So, as much as we may want to overreact and make a few more transactions just to make them, they do have to make sense. I don’t think it makes any sense to make any moves with the pitching staff quite yet, but that situation needs to continue to be closely monitored. I do believe that Carlos Gomez should go back to AAA and play every day, leading off and playing CF. I would then promote Jason Pridie to fill the role of fourth outfielder.

What are your thoughts? What would you do if you were Bill Smith? Leave your questions or comments here  


TWINS 1, ORIOLES 4 (Called in 6th inning due to rain)

Tuesday night’s game was horrible because of the Twins play on the field. Wednesday night’s game was horrible because of the rain on the field. The game was delayed at the onset, and then three rain delays later, they finally called it. Unfortunately, the game was through five innings, making it an official game. The Twins were behind 4-1 at the time, so they get the loss and fall to 13-16.

Kevin Slowey got off to a bad start. In the first inning, he gave up three runs on four hits. The biggest blow as a Nick Markakis two run homer. He gave up two more hits, but no more runs, over two more innings before the game was delayed the first time. When the game started up again, Craig Breslow entered the game. He gave up a solo homer to Luke Scott. He gave up just one other hit, and most important, he did not walk a batter in two innings. Mark Hendrickson started for the Orioles and gave up just one hit over three scoreless innings. After the rain delay, former Twin Brian Bass came in. He went the final 2.2 innings and gave up a run on four hits and a walk. He struck out four. None of the Twins hits off of him were hit hard.

Mike Redmond had two of the Twins five hits.

On Thursday, Glen Perkins will face Brad Bergesen.   

MINOR LEAGUE REPORT Hitter of the Day – Angel Morales, Beloit Snappers Pitcher of the Day – Anthony Swarzak, Rochester Red Wings & Cole Devries, New Britain Rockcats


Wednesday –Rochester 5, Louisville 2 – Anthony Swarzak had another strong start and picked up his second win. He gave up just one run on five hits in seven innings. He walked two and struck out six. Sean Henn went the final two innings. He gave up a run on a Jonny Gomes home run. He struck out three in two innings. Drew Butera went 3-4 with two RBI. Luke Hughes had just one hit, but it was his fifth home run. David Winfree went 2-4 with a triple. Dustin Martin was 2-4 with a walk and his ninth stolen base.  

  • By the way, be sure to bookmark a new blog on the Rochester Red Wings called ‘R Red Wings.


Wednesday – Game 1 – New Britain 2, New Hampshire 0 Cole Devries was very strong again for his second win. He went five shutout innings. He gave up five hits, walked two and struck out two. Rob Delaney pitched a scoreless sixth frame. Anthony Slama recorded his fourth save with a scoreless seventh inning. He struck out one. The Rockcats managed just four hits in this game. Erik Lis scored both runs. He hit a solo home run. He also scored on a Juan Portes double. Portes had two doubles in the game.

Wednesday – Game 2 – New Britain 5, New Hampshire 3 Matt Fox made the start in the second game. He went 5.1 innings and gave up two runs on two hits. He walked three and struck out four. Jose Lugo gets credit for the Win as he got the last two outs on the sixth inning. Anthony Slama recorded his second save of the day despite giving up a run on two hits and a walk in his inning. Brian Dinkelman went 2-3 with his fifth double and two RBI. Rene Tosoni scored three runs in this game. He was 2-2 as well as got hit by a pitch. Brandon Roberts was 2-2 with his fourth double.

INJURY REPORTJuan Portes played 3B in both of these games as Danny Valencia rested a sore wrist.    


Wednesday –Ft. Myers 5, Sarasota 6Deolis Guerra had his first rough start of the season. The 20 year old righty gave up six run on 11 hits and two walks in just four innings. Steve Hirschfeld threw three scoreless relief innings. Alex Burnett pitched a scoreless eighth. The Miracle managed just five hits, no one had more than one. Danny Berg was 0-2, but he walked three times. Deibinson Romero walked twice. Ben Revere stole his 14th base. 


Wednesday – Beloit 0, West Michigan 3Dan Berlind made the start for the Snappers in place of Shooter Hunt. (No word on what the team is going to do with Hunt; skip a start, move him to the bullpen, etc.) Berlind went 4.2 innings and gave up three runs (2 earned) on six hits. He walked two and struck out three. Joe Testa came in and went 2.1 scoreless innings. Matt Williams pitched a scoreless inning. The Snappers had just four hits. Angel Morales hit his third double and third triple.  

Please feel free to Send me an e-mail, or leave your questions or comments here.

What Would You Do? Part 3 (Bullpen)

25 Mar

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Last night was the Weekly Minnesota Twins Podcast. Be sure to put it on your iPod, or spend some time at work listening to it at work. Twins pitching prospect Zach Ward called in to the show at the beginning of the show. As you know, Ward spent most of the 2008 season in the New Britain bullpen. He then spent much of his offseason as a starter pitching in Puerto Rico. It was fun to learn a little more about Zach Ward. The two other guests were two new Twins bloggers. First, Wally Fish recently started writing two blogs, a Twins blog ( and a Royals blog ( Also, Jack Steal started his Twins blog (Fanatic Jack Talks Twins) this week and came on and talked Twins for awhile. It was a solid show, and there are a couple more Twins blogs that you should check out and potentially bookmark.


But for today, I would like to talk about three issues that seem to be hot topics as it relates to the Twins. I will post my thoughts, and ask for your thoughts. I would appreciate your comments on each. I’d like to read what you predict will happen, and what you think will happen. As we know, those two things can be very different.




Bullpen – What do we know? Joe Nathan will be the closer. Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Luis Ayala and Craig Breslow are givens. If the Twins go with 11 pitchers, only one other pitcher can make the Opening Day roster. If they go with 12 pitchers, then two can make it. Here is the list of possibilities. What would you do?

·         Philip Humber – Right-Hander, he is out of options. Throws a good fastball, and an excellent curveball. Can eat some innings?

·         Jose Mijares – Left-hander, he has an option left. Many thought he was ready because of 10 games in September. Many upset that he came to camp overweight. Definitely easy to question his attitude.

·         RA Dickey – Veteran right-hander who became a knuckleball pitcher a couple of years ago. He has had a good spring. Can eat innings.

·         Brian Duensing – Left-hander, he has always started, except during the 2008 Olympics. He’s had a good spring, and if the Twins feel they need a second lefty, he may beat out Mijares.

·         Sean Henn – Left-hander, he has primarily started until last year. Has had a solid spring, but history of walking a lot of hitters.

·         Jason Jones – Right-hander, primarily has been a starter. Rule 5 pick would have to be offered back to the Yankees, a trade could be possible.

·         Seth’s Opinion – In my mind, Humber is a given. So if the Twins go with 11 pitchers that is it. Mijares clearly needs more time, and that isn’t a bad thing. Remember, he missed most of last year after breaking his arm. He will be fine, just needs more time. I think Jones is a guy that the Twins could keep in a trade with the Yankees. I would attempt that at least. The final spot could be between Dickey and Duensing. If Gardy insists on having a second lefty in the bullpen, then it would be Duensing. Both Duensing and Dickey can eat some innings out of the back of the rotation or serve as a spot starter. So, I don’t really have a strong feeling either way between those two. The benefit that Duensing has would be that he is on the 40 man roster.