Twins dealing with bullpen problems

Twins dealing with bullpen issues

NEW YORK -- The Twins' bullpen was back to nearly full strength on Sunday after the coaching staff felt it necessary to give some relievers a rest during Saturday's contest.

But having a more rested bullpen didn't mean that all of the recent relief problems for Minnesota were solved.

Entering Sunday, Twins relievers had posted a 7.20 ERA over their past six games while pitching a total of 20 2/3 innings over that span. But the biggest concern is the fact that the club has had to turn to some of its relievers a little too frequently over that stretch, such as Matt Guerrier, who entered Sunday tied for the American League lead in appearances (19).

"If we can make some adjustments and get a few people that throw the ball and who take some of that workload away, that would be a lot better where we don't have to force that issue," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Right now, we only have a few that are really throwing good, so we go to them. We just can't continue that. We'd like to have a little more help."

Gardenhire did not call upon right-hander Luis Ayala in the 11th inning of Saturday's loss, choosing instead to stick with left-hander Craig Breslow to face Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez. It was a sign that perhaps the Twins had lost trust in Ayala and might be in need of someone else to fill his role.

Gardenhire hinted Sunday that help for the bullpen could possibly be on the way.

"We've got try something," Gardenhire said. "We're going to try something, I would imagine."

It's unlikely that help will come from outside the organization. Many other organizations are currently seeking ways to bolster their bullpens, and for the majority of teams, it's still too early to consider trading away their relief help.

So the Twins are looking within their organization at who might be able to help in relief.

Recently some of Minnesota's front-office members were at Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Rochester to check on options.

Left-hander Sean Henn appears to be the most likely reliever to be called up should the Twins go in that direction. Henn, who features a 95-mph fastball, has posted a 1.23 ERA in 14 appearances (22 innings) at Rochester.

Henn has held opponents to a .200 batting average while striking out 28 batters in 22 innings. One concern about the lefty is his 10 walks in 22 innings, and walks have already proven to be an issue for the Twins' pitching staff this year.

Right-hander Anthony Swarzak has also been throwing well at Rochester in a starting role, going 3-4 with a 2.25 ERA in seven starts. But Minnesota appears hesitant to move him into a relief role right now in case it would have need for a starter from the Minor Leagues.

Relievers Anthony Slama and Rob Delaney have caught some people's attention at New Britain, but it doesn't seem like they are quite to the point of helping the club just yet.

"There are some pretty good pitchers there, but guys that are not ready," Gardenhire said of New Britain.

Pitching matchup
MIN: LHP Glen Perkins (1-2, 4.27 ERA)
After starting the season with three straight eight-inning outings, Perkins has been unable to get past the sixth inning in each of his past four starts. The left-hander pitched just 5 1/3 innings against the Tigers and gave up five runs on five hits in his last start. It was also the fourth straight outing that Perkins has allowed at least four earned runs. Perkins was not exactly sharp with his command in this last outing, issuing a career-high four walks to the Tigers. The left-hander is 1-2 with a 5.00 ERA in three career starts vs. New York

NYY: LHP Andy Pettitte (3-1, 4.00 ERA)
Pettitte worked six solid innings against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on Wednesday, recording his first win since April 21 against Oakland. He allowed two runs, but only one was earned, as Toronto's Aaron Hill scored on what would have been the third out of the first inning, if not for a throwing error by Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano. Pettitte allowed five hits and four walks while striking out two. He allowed two extra-base hits, both doubles. He has now pitched at least six innings in six of his seven starts this season.

Tidbits
Gardenhire said Sunday that he was still unsure when Delmon Young might rejoin the team. There is no hurry by the organization to have Young return, as it wants him to spend as much time with his ailing mother as he needs. ... Joe Mauer was back behind the plate on Sunday, after being used as the designated hitter in Saturday's day game. Gardenhire said that Mauer's DH days will be limited once the team goes back to having just two catchers, despite the fact that means there will be days without Mauer's bat in the lineup. "He'll get his days off," Gardenhire said. "He needs those. We don't, but he does." ... Double-A New Britain first baseman Whit Robbins was named the Twins Minor League Player of the Week, for the week ending on May 15. Robbins batted .500 (11-for-22) with three doubles, one home run and five RBIs. The 24-year-old was a fourth-round pick of the Twins in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FS-N HD, ESPN

On radio
• TRN 1500

Up next
• Tuesday: Twins (Scott Baker, 1-4, 6.95) at White Sox (Mark Buehrle, 5-1, 3.00), 7:11 p.m. CT
• Wednesday: Twins (Francisco Liriano, 2-4, 5.21) at White Sox (John Danks, 2-3, 4.82), 7:11 p.m. CT
• Thursday: Twins (Nick Blackburn, 2-2, 4.38) at White Sox (Bartolo Colon, 2-3, 4.21), 1:05 p.m. CT

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