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Twins have luxury in versatile Swarzak

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CHICAGO -- Right-hander Anthony Swarzak led the Majors in relief innings pitched last year with 96, but he could see that total drop this season, as he's expected to be used in higher-leverage situations.

Swarzak, serving as the club's long reliever in '13, posted a 2.91 ERA in 48 relief appearances -- with 37 of those appearances going longer than one inning.

But Swarzak was the first reliever used by the club on Monday, throwing a perfect inning in relief of Ricky Nolasco, with two strikeouts. Swarzak's velocity in his one-inning stint was impressive, as he reached as high as 96 mph on the radar gun after averaging 92 mph on his fastball last year, according to Fangraphs.com.

Swarzak will still be used in long-relief in certain situations given his success in that role, but he's expected to have more one-inning stints with right-hander Samuel Deduno also on the roster as a long reliever.

"Swarzy just gets guys out no matter where we put him," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He can stretch out three, four or five innings. He keeps saying he wants to be a starter, but he'll do anything it takes. That's the kind of people you want on your baseball team. We've got a good situation. There's a lot of places I'd pitch either one of those guys. It doesn't have to be long, but they're good at that."

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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