Fuentes' addition strengthens solid 'pen

Fuentes' addition strengthens solid 'pen

SEATTLE -- Brian Fuentes wasn't so shocked when heard that he was traded. There were rumors and he figured he might be involved.

His shock came when he heard his destination -- Minnesota.

"I was little surprised it was the Twins that picked me up," said Fuentes, who was available for Saturday's game against Seattle. "Maybe some of these other teams needed more help. But I'm here."

That's a compliment to the bullpen when a guy, who has 71 saves over nearly two seasons, is brought in to be the setup guy.

"You've got three guys out there who have been closers [Fuentes, Matt Capps, Jon Rauch]," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "You have one guy that is throwing as good as any closer in the game, in Jesse Crain. You can do a lot of things with it.

"Yes, you can shorten games when you get a lot of depth in the bullpen. But what it does more than anything else is allow you not to kill a Jesse Crain. We saw that with the Rangers, how their big arms were able to shorten games. We should be able to shorten games as good as anybody."

It's a bullpen that has been restructured. Three players have been acquired over the past month: Capps, Fuentes and Randy Flores. The club needed to respond to the loss of left-hander Ron Mahay (rotator cuff surgery), left-hander Jose Mijares (meniscus surgery) and, of course, right-hander Joe Nathan (elbow surgery).

Gardenhire again has the luxury of two left-handers: Fuentes and Flores, who was picked up off waivers last Wednesday.

"It allows a little more maneuverability, as far as left-right matchups," Gardenhire said. "You don't want to get too crazy. Sometimes you can stop the flow of the game when you start changing pitching 8,000 times. I don't like to do that, but I like matchups.

"With Fuentes, he's not just a guy you have to send out there against one particular left-hander, then take him out of the game. He's already proven he can go through innings and get lefties and righties out. He makes it a little easier for me too, you don't have to worry about the left-right thing as much, which is huge.

Rauch, Matt Guerrier, Jeff Manship and Crain round out the corps.

"It looks good on paper," Fuentes added. "I know Capps is doing a tremendous job. Rauch was doing really well before he got there and Crain throws the heck out of the ball."