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Rauch, Baker round out Twins' bullpen

Rauch, Baker round out Twins' bullpen

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins have made their final roster decisions for their American League Division Series against the Yankees, with right-handers Jon Rauch and Scott Baker earning the final two pitching spots while Kevin Slowey was left off the roster.

Rauch had been questionable due to his sore left knee. But after he threw a bullpen session on Tuesday morning with no problems, the coaching staff's decision was made easy.

The real debate came in who would earn the final bullpen spot as long reliever. The Twins decided to go with Baker instead of Slowey. Both had been used as starters this season but were not included in the club's four-man rotation for the ALDS, which consists of Francisco Liriano, Carl Pavano, Brian Duensing and Nick Blackburn.

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"We just talked about a power guy, moreso, and Baker is more of a power pitcher," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Both Baker and Slowey had battled stints of elbow tendinitis this season. Baker, who won 15 games for the Twins in 2009, had undergone two cortisone shots since July, and the question had been whether he could loosen his arm up in time in a relief role. But Gardenhire said that isn't a concern.

"He says his elbow feels great, no problem loosening it up," Gardenhire said. "We talked about a guy that can go out there, give him some time to get loose and he can strike somebody out. That's it. Slowey is more of a pitch-to-contact guy. Honestly, with Bake, the way he misfires a little bit in the strike zone is better against these guys on the other side, rather than a guy that's in the strike zone all the time."

Baker has not thrown in relief since 2007.

The rest of Minnesota's bullpen will include closer Matt Capps, along with right-handers Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier and left-handers Brian Fuentes and Jose Mijares.

The Twins are carrying 11 pitchers and 14 position players, as Gardenhire indicated earlier in the week.

On their bench, the Twins will carry infielders Alexi Casilla, Nick Punto and Matt Tolbert, along with backup catcher Drew Butera and outfielder Jason Repko.

Gardenhire was asked if he had considered keeping Jose Morales as a third catcher who could also serve as a backup at first base and pinch-hit, rather than all three utility infielders.

"I want the speed," Gardenhire said. "I know I'm going to have to run for Jim Thome, probably have to run for [Jason] Kubel and play defense for him, and I know [J.J.] Hardy is probably going to have to run for him. It came down to who I think I'll have to run for more. If you take those guys out, you might need a pinch-hitter coming around again. but when you do that, you're doing that with a lead most of the time unless it's really late.

"[I] Just decided we needed the speed and the versatility of the guys more than three catchers right now."

The position portion of the roster will break down like this:

• Catchers (2): Joe Mauer and Butera

• Infielders (7): Michael Cuddyer, Orlando Hudson, Hardy, Danny Valencia, Tolbert, Casilla and Nick Punto

• Outfielders (4): Delmon Young, Denard Span, Jason Kubel and Repko

• Designated hitter (1): Thome

The roster that was set on Wednesday is only for the ALDS. Changes may be made prior to the start of the AL Championship Series.

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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