CLEVELAND -- Left-hander Brian Duensing has been one of the Twins' best relievers this season and is expected to remain in his current role despite his starting experience.
Duensing, who has made 50 career starts, has been impressive in 28 1/3 innings, primarily as the seventh-inning arm out of the bullpen, with a 2.86 ERA, 18 strikeouts and seven walks.
"We like Duensing where he's at," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's eating up a lot of innings out there, getting people out. He's doing really, really well. There's a reason we took him out of that rotation; we wanted to see how he did in this role and see if we could strengthen our bullpen.
"If we have to put him out there we can do it, but right now he's doing pretty good where he's at, and when you find a niche for somebody, you stay with it for a while and see what happens."
The Twins have used nine starters already this season, and there's a good chance they'll use a 10th on Wednesday with right-hander Carl Pavano likely to hit the disabled list.
Gardenhire, though, said he'd rather use right-hander Jeff Manship in a spot start, as he's fully stretched out. Gardenhire didn't rule out using Duensing as a starter this season, but said it's tough to build up his pitch count enough to start.
"I can go to him, but one thing with Duensing, I'll have to stretch him out somewhere, and to do that you want to start him and pitch him three innings, and then go five innings," Gardenhire said. "I can't do that. It's pretty tough. Plus, I have [Glen] Perkins as my eighth-inning guy. If I start Duensing, I'm going to have to bring somebody up to take his spot in the bullpen, because I need another lefty out there."
One reason for Duensing's success this season has been his ability to get right-handers out. A year after right-handers posted a .947 OPS against him, right-handers have a .661 OPS against him this year.
"I've been able to get in on righties this year, which has helped," Duensing said. "I just seem to have confidence in everything this year. Everything's moving down, everything's working right now."
Manship likely to start for ailing Pavano
CLEVELAND -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said right-hander Jeff Manship is the favorite to start against the Royals on Wednesday if right-hander Carl Pavano can't make his scheduled start.
Pavano flew back to Minneapolis on Sunday, and is scheduled to have a second MRI exam taken on his right shoulder by team physician Dr. Dan Buss on Monday. He remains a likely candidate to be placed on the disabled list, as he's been bothered by a strain in the front of his throwing shoulder all season.
"Manship's ready to do it, and we'll talk with the general manager and assistant general manager and we'll get it figured out," Gardenhire said. "We'll have a starter."
Manship, 27, has made one relief appearance for the Twins this season, allowing one run on one hit in 1 1/3 innings against the A's on Tuesday. He had a 3.08 ERA with 25 strikeouts and 15 walks in 38 innings with Triple-A Rochester before being recalled on May 27.
Blackburn's rehab start cut short by rain
CLEVELAND -- Right-hander Nick Blackburn saw his rehab start with Triple-A Rochester cut short by rain on Sunday.
Blackburn, on the disabled list with a left quad strain, gave up one run on two hits and a walk over just 2 1/3 innings against Triple-A Columbus. The sinkerballer threw only 27 pitches before the game was delayed for 45 minutes due to rain.
It was scheduled to be Blackburn's final rehab outing before rejoining the Twins rotation. Blackburn made his first rehab start last Tuesday, allowing four runs (three earned) on four hits and three walks over 3 2/3 innings against Triple-A Charlotte.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said after Minnesota's 6-3 win over the Indians on Sunday that the club has not decided if Blackburn will need another rehab start or if he'll be activated and rejoin the rotation.
"Blackie only threw  pitches so we have to make a decision here," Gardenhire said. "So we're just going to enjoy the win and get to Kansas City and see how everybody is. And then we'll fill up the Internet world with all sorts of information."