Just a few weeks ago, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire stressed how important it was for his club to address its bullpen situation this offseason.
But after the bullpen had been an area of concern for much of the past two seasons, lately it’s been going through a resurgence. That’s in part due to general manager Bill Smith adding some extra pieces to the mix last month.
The acquisitions of Jon Rauch and Ron Mahay, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, have added some veteran presence to Minnesota’s relief corps. Combine that with Matt Guerrier’s emergence as a solid eighth inning option, Jesse Crain’s rebound since returning from the Minor Leagues and Jose Mijares now figuring out how to get right-handed hitters out, and Gardenhire has been pleased recently be what he’s seen from the group.
“We struggled early out of the bullpen,” Gardenhire said, “but I think good things have happened.”
With Rauch signed through 2010, Pat Neshek and Boof Bonser as options to challenge for spots as they are set to return in Spring Training following surgeries and some young starters like Anthony Swarzak and Brian Duensing in the mix if they don’t make the starting rotation, the club’s bullpen is already looking to have plenty of options for next season.
“I think we’re going to have lots of good
competition,” said Gardenhire. “It should be fun.”
That’s not to say Gardenhire doesn’t want other options. The Twins still could be looking for one more left-handed reliever for 2010, which could be Mahay as Gardenhire said he’d like to have the lefty back, and perhaps another arm in long relief.
“I like the arms [we have].” Gardenhire said. “Can you use more? Always.”