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Deduno OK with whatever role Twins give him

Deduno OK with whatever role Twins give him

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Samuel Deduno, who appears likely to open the season in the bullpen instead of the starting rotation, said on Saturday that he's fine with whatever role the Twins decide is best for him.

Deduno has been solid this spring, posting a 2.19 ERA in five Grapefruit League appearances totaling 12 1/3 innings. He was considered the frontrunner for the fifth spot in the rotation, based on his impressive spring and 3.83 ERA in 18 starts last year. But Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said Deduno is likely to open the year as a long reliever.

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Deduno said he hasn't heard anything from the Twins about moving to the bullpen, but said he can handle it, if that's what's asked of him.

"Nobody has told me anything, but any chance they give me to help the team -- in the bullpen or as a starter -- I can do it," Deduno said. "I feel pretty good. My arm is healthy, which is the biggest thing. I'm happy because I'm healthy and I can do whatever they need in the bullpen or starting."

Deduno, 30, has limited big league experience in the bullpen, as he made four relief appearances as a rookie in '10 with the Rockies, and two with the Padres in '11. He last saw extensive time as a reliever in the Minor Leagues in '11, when he made 28 relief appearances for Triple-A Tucson.

But the Twins feel he's better suited for the bullpen, as he's never thrown 150 innings in any season and ended last year on the disabled list with a right shoulder strain that required arthroscopic surgery. He's also never gone longer than seven innings in any of his 33 starts with the Twins over the last two seasons.

"His stuff is really good," Antony said. "When he's gotten into trouble is when he gets deep into the pitch counts and he's at 100 pitches in the fourth or fifth inning. That can be tough on the bullpen. But he has good stuff and could have value out of the rotation. He's also had some injury issues, so we have to factor that in. But he's thrown the ball really well and has really good stuff."

With Deduno expected to pitch in long relief, right-hander Anthony Swarzak is expected to see more time in the sixth and seventh innings, similar to the role held by Josh Roenicke last season.

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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