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No shortage of arms competing in bullpen

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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- While Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said Wednesday he was not happy with the quality of the competition between position players, he praised the relievers competing for spots in the bullpen on Thursday.

While Spring Training stats can be deceiving, Twins relievers entering Thursday's game had combined to post a 3.31 ERA in Grapefruit League play, which ranked fourth in the Majors.

Several relievers competing for spots have stood out this spring, including Michael Tonkin (0.00 ERA in 6 1/3 innings), Deolis Guerra (0.00 ERA in five innings), Caleb Thielbar (1.59 ERA in 5 2/3 innings), Aaron Thompson (1.80 ERA in five innings) and Matt Hoffman (0.00 ERA in four innings).

"We have a lot of guys throwing well," Antony said. "Some of the other guys who were in the tail end as the 11th, 12th and 13th guys in our bullpen [last year] have pitched well, as well as our non-rosters and guys just competing for spots."

But Glen Perkins, Jared Burton, Casey Fien, Brian Duensing and Anthony Swarzak have most likely secured places in the bullpen based on their track records from last season, leaving two open spots.

Thielbar appears to have an advantage based on his impressive rookie year and his numbers this spring, while the last spot could be occupied by Tonkin or Ryan Pressly, who was solid as a Rule 5 Draft pick last year but had a 7.11 ERA in 6 1/3 innings this spring entering Thursday.

But the Twins could also decide to stash one or two starting pitchers who are out of options, like Scott Diamond or Vance Worley in the bullpen if Samuel Deduno claims the fifth spot in the rotation.

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

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