CINCINNATI - When Brian Duensing makes his first start of the season for the Twins on Saturday, the circumstances will be anything but ordinary.
For one thing, it's an interleague game at a National League park, so pitchers have to hit. In his usual self-deprecating manner, Duensing explained how much he is looking forward to facing Reds righthander Johnny Cueto, who ranked seventh in the National League with a 2.38 ERA -- and leads the NL with six hit batsmen.
"I'll tell [manager Ron Gardenhire], I'm not going to even bunt," Duensing said. "I'm not going to put my face in there."
Duensing, a lefthanded hitter, is 0-for-5 with three strikeouts in his career. So far, he has faced Ian Kennedy, Yovani Gallardo and Tim Lincecum. Duensing laughs about how baffled he was by Gallardo's breaking pitches and Lincecum's changeup, and he was just glad he could make contact against Kennedy, a 20-game winner last year.
Duensing's goals at the plate Saturday will be simple.
"Don't get hurt and don't make a fool out of myself all at the same time," he said.
Shifting from relief, Duensing will be on a limited pitch count, with Gardenhire saying he probably wouldn't let the lefthander throw more than 60 pitches. The venue will add to the challenge. Great American Ballpark is a home run hitter's paradise.
"I walked down there while they were taking early [batting practice], and everybody's hitting homers," Duensing said. "I'm like, 'What? I'm going to go back and retract my offer to start?'"
But no matter how much fun he pokes at himself, the Twins love the way he competes. They are eager to see how he does after posting a 3.12 ERA in 30 relief appearances. This won't be a one-start audition, especially with a doubleheader scheduled for next Saturday against Kansas City.
"We need more starters," Gardenhire said. "I can honestly tell you, I'm not looking to take people out of the rotation. If you start and you do well, we'll find something.
"Duensing's been a starter. We have all the confidence in the world in him. We know he can do this. How he'll do, you never know because he hasn't been in this situation all year, but I don't have too many worries about Duensing pitching."Mauer update
Joe Mauer was out of the lineup for the fourth game in a row, but pinch hit for pitcher Nick Blackburn in the sixth inning. Mauer drew a walk and left the game, as Thursday's starter, Liam Hendriks, pinch ran for him.
Mauer also caught two bullpen sessions before the game.
"If he comes in [Saturday] after doing all these bullpens and says, 'I'm ready to go, I want to play,' then OK, I'll type him in [the lineup]," Gardenhire said. "That's how it works. I'm not going to force the issue. He and the trainers have to say he's ready."Etc.
• Plate umpire Jerry Layne went to the hospital after the barrel of Devin Mosoraco's broken bat hit him on the side of the mask in the fourth inning. Layne's tests came back normal. The remaining three umpires finished the game, with second base ump Bob Davidson moving behind the plate following a brief delay.
• Byron Buxton, the No. 2 pick in this month's draft, made his professional debut Friday for the Twins' Gulf Coast League affiliate and went 0-for-4 with three flyouts and a strikeout. He led off and played center field.
• The Reds announced that Mike Leake, not Mat Latos, will start Sunday's series finale.
|NY Mets - LP: J. Hefner||2||FINAL|
|Chicago Cubs - WP: S. Feldman||8|
|Seattle - LP: O. Perez||4||FINAL|
|Cleveland - WP: C. Perez||5|
|Toronto - LP: B. Morrow||2||FINAL|
|NY Yankees - WP: D. Phelps||7|
|Cincinnati - WP: B. Arroyo||10||FINAL|
|Philadelphia - LP: K. Kendrick||0|
|Chicago WSox - LP: N. Jones||9||FINAL|
|LA Angels - WP: R. Coello||12|
|Tampa Bay - WP: A. Torres||10||FINAL|
|Baltimore - LP: J. Johnson||6|
|Houston - WP: J. Cisnero||4||FINAL|
|Pittsburgh - LP: B. Morris||2|
|Los Angeles - LP: K. Jansen||1||FINAL|
|Atlanta - WP: C. Gearrin||3|
|Boston - WP: C. Breslow||12||FINAL|
|Minnesota - LP: S. Diamond||5|
|Arizona - WP: B. McCarthy||1||FINAL|
|Miami - LP: T. Koehler||0|
|Milwaukee - WP: J. Axford||6||FINAL|
|St. Louis - LP: J. Kelly||4|
|Detroit - LP: A. Sanchez||2||FINAL|
|Texas - WP: J. Grimm||7|
|San Francisco - LP: T. Lincecum||2||FINAL|
|Colorado - WP: T. Chatwood||10|
|Washington - LP: J. Zimmermann||1||FINAL|
|San Diego - WP: E. Stults||2|
|Kansas City - LP: E. Santana||1||FINAL|
|Oakland - WP: T. Milone||2|