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Gardenhire plans to stick with eight-man bullpen

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he plans on sticking with an eight-man bullpen for the foreseeable future because the club's starting pitchers aren't going deep enough into games.

Gardenhire prefers to have seven relievers so he can have five position players on the bench, but said he has to keep it this way for now.

"I haven't even thought about it," Gardenhire said. "It's just the way it is right now until the starters start going deeper into games on a consistent basis. It is what it is."

Despite a heavy workload, Twins relievers have fared well with a combined 2.92 ERA that ranks fourth in the Majors, entering Sunday's game against the Mariners. But they've also thrown 194 1/3 innings, which is the fifth-most in the Majors.

"If we're going to have success, we need our starters to go into the second half of games," Gardenhire said. "We're just in June and our bullpen has thrown too many innings. It won't last -- they won't be lights out if we continue to pound them with innings. So we really need our starters to get going here and our starters know that."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. Kelly Erickson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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