Overworked bullpen needs rest

Twins relievers have thrown 314 innings this season, including seven on Sunday in a loss to Oakland. Only Kansas City (327 2/3) and Colorado (326 1/3) have had busier bullpens.

As August nears, there could be a bigger price to pay for Twins starters not pitching deep into games -- tuckered-out relievers.

Entering Sunday, the Twins had five relievers among the league's top 25 in innings pitched. Anthony Swarzak was third with 45 1/3 innings. Alex Burnett was seventh.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has kept his fingers crossed that the rotation would stabilize more. After Francisco Liriano pitched eight innings on Friday, the bullpen worked four innings on Saturday and seven on Sunday.

It's strange to get into bullpen overuse right after the All-Star break and with a 13-man pitching staff, but the Twins have created such an issue.

"No bullpen can sustain that," Gardenhire said. "It's just not going to happen. The workload in the first half was enough. No bullpen will be able to handle that pressure."

Dozier disclosure

Brian Dozier entered the season with only a half-season at Class AA under his belt, so the Twins knew there would be rough edges when they called him up in May.

When asked how much progress Dozier has made, Gardenhire said: "He's had his moments when he is OK."

Dozier needs to clean up some things if he's going to be productive player. He was 2-for-4 on Sunday with an RBI.

"I still think he gets sloppy with his glove a little too much," Gardenhire said. "He makes plays a lot harder than they should be. He plays really deep, and we have had a lot of conversations about shortening the field up a little bit."

Gardenhire said Dozier corrects himself when told to come in but then gradually drifts back. Dozier also was part of a poor relay in Saturday's game that displeased Gardenhire.

Offensively, Dozier has a little pop in his bat, but Gardenhire wants him to shorten his swing and cut down on fly balls.

It sounds like a laundry list, but all indications are that the Twins will keep Dozier in the starting lineup.

"We're picking out a lot of stuff, but I'm just telling you the little things he's going to have to get better at," Gardenhire said. "He'll get there. It's just a process. It doesn't happen overnight."


• Fans cheered wildly as new Wild winger Zach Parise, signed as a free agent about two weeks ago, threw out the first pitch to Justin Morneau. Former University of North Dakota teammate Drew Stafford, now with Buffalo, accompanied him.

• Rochester reliever Luis Perdomo has been named Twins minor league player of the week after tossing 2 1/3 scoreless innings with no hits, no walks and two strikeouts.

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