Duensing has place in rotation

BRADENTON, FLA. - Twins manager Ron Gardenhire won't bite on the questions about who's a lock in the 2011 starting rotation.

But it's safe to assume righthander Carl Pavano wouldn't have re-signed to pitch out of the bullpen. And lefthander Francisco Liriano had too strong of a 2010 season to not be in the rotation. So that's two spots right there.

Lefthander Brian Duensing makes it three.

After moving out of the bullpen and into the rotation in each of the past two seasons, Duensing, with a career record of 15-5 and 3.02 ERA, is considered a starter.

"Now it is time to give him the ball and leave him alone and let him pitch in the rotation and see how that goes," Gardenhire said.

Duensing, who threw two shutout innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday, said he got an inkling that he might be earmarked for the rotation after a recent conversation with pitching coach Rick Anderson.

His reaction: "I took it with a grain of salt," Duensing said.

Then he added: "That's nice to know."

With three spots apparently locked up, the Twins have Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn and Kevin Slowey for the final two.

Wart removed

Twins outfielder Michael Cuddyer was back with the team after traveling to Eagan to have a wart removed from his left foot. He's expected to miss between one and two weeks.

Cuddyer said he wanted to be able to get "quite a bit" of spring training activity in, so laser treatment was the best course of action. Dr. Charles Crutchfield performed the surgery.

"This is the most aggressive thing we can do," Cuddyer said. "There's a 60 percent chance that it is all gone and we won't ever have to worry about it."

If the wart does return, the Twins likely will use the special cream they ordered last week.

"Dr. Crutchfield is very confident that the cream will work," Cuddyer said. "It just takes longer."

Cuddyer can work out his upper body for now and won't try swinging a bat for a few more days. After that, he will do as much as he can tolerate.

Etc.

• Delmon Young (turf toe on left foot) could make his spring training debut on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rays at Port Charlotte.

• Gardenhire said infielder Luke Hughes, who homered on Wednesday, has been one of the more impressive players in camp. Hughes homered in his first major league at-bat last year, but his season was cut short by a sports hernia and groin muscle issues.

On deck

Tsuyoshi Nishioka will start at shortstop on Thursday when the Twins play the Baltimore Orioles in Sarasota. Gardenhire planned all along to use Nishioka and Alexi Casilla at both middle infield spots during spring training before settling on specific roles.

Righthander Carl Pavano is scheduled to start for the Twins, while lefthander Brian Matusz is scheduled to start for the Orioles.

LA VELLE E. NEAL III