- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 21, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The Minnesota Twins moved struggling right-hander Nick Blackburn into the bullpen, and left-hander Brian Duensing will take his place in the rotation.

Acting manager Scott Ullger made the announcement before Wednesday’s game against Cleveland. Manager Ron Gardenhire was not at the ballpark, tending to a family matter.

Ullger described the move as temporary, to give Blackburn a mental break. Duensing will start Friday at Baltimore.

“It’s not a permanent thing. It’s just to give Blackie a chance to take a step back, take a deep breath and regroup a little bit,” Ullger said.

Asked about a timeframe for the switch, Ullger was vague.

“Things have a way of working themselves out,” he said.

The Twins won eight of Blackburn’s first nine starts, and he was 5-0 with a 2.65 ERA in May. In the nine starts since, he’s 1-6 with a 9.88 ERA and 11 home runs allowed. So the move did not come as a surprise, and Blackburn took full blame for it.

“Hopefully it’s something I’m about through,” Blackburn said. “I’m confident that I am.”

Blackburn hasn’t been the only problem in the rotation. Right-handers Scott Baker and Kevin Slowey have been roughed up, too. The Twins haven’t yet officially declared their starter for Sunday’s game, but that would be Slowey’s turn.

Duensing has a 1.67 ERA in 43 innings, all in relief. He made nine starts last season, but most of his appearances this year have been brief, late-game assignments. He pitched four innings Sunday to stretch out his arm, a sign the Twins were preparing to move him.

“I don’t know how it’s going to go,” said Duensing, who will likely be held between 60 and 80 pitches. “I just want to help out.”

Ullger, the team’s third base coach, said he wasn’t sure if Gardenhire would travel with the team for the four-game series against the Orioles starting Thursday night.



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