Q&A with Twins Starter Brian Duensing


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That the Twins ascent up the Central Division standings has coincided with Brian Duensing’s promotion to the starting rotation is not an accident. Duensing’s presence has not only stabilized the back end of the team’s rotation, but sent a message to some of the squad’s complacent young starters - step up or you’ll be sent out.

Wherever the Twins have needed him this season, Duensing has been stellar. The 27-year-old enters Friday’s start against Anaheim with a 6-1 record, 2.00 ERA and .223 batting average against in 76 1/3 innings.

The lefthander took some time out to chat with me before yesterday’s game.

DZ: First off, congrats on your great start last Saturday (3-hit shutout vs. Oakland on August 14), could you talk about that a little bit?

DUENSING: It was a big one, I guess. It helped solidify the series win. It was my first complete game - period - at this level. I kind of felt like I was fighting myself the first couple of innings and after the 3rd or 4th, I calmed down a little bit and was able to throw the ball where I wanted to.

DZ: For most of the game, you just had a one-run lead, does that help you bear down and concentrate when you have so little margin for error?

DUENSING: I try not to pay attention - I am sure it does, maybe subliminally - I try not to focus (on the score). The one thing I really kind of focused on was how well (Trevor) Cahill was throwing so I knew I was going to have to keep it close. If some runners were going to get on, I was going to try and tell myself just to try and keep it close and not to try to do anything overly dramatic or try and overdo anything. It worked out.

DZ: You got a taste of things last year, pitched in some big games - even the playoffs - how did that help you going into this year?

DUENSING: It kind of helped me be a little more comfortable at this level. It helped mentally to teach me that I was able to get guys out at this level. It’s the same game that they play everywhere else. It just gave me a lot of confidence to go out there and have confidence in myself.

DZ: You were moved into the rotation fairly recently, how do you prepare differently being a starter versus being in the bullpen?

DUENSING: It’s a lot easier because I know now when I am going to throw. So mentally I am not strained or anything like that. Physically I just have my own routine with different types of cardio and throwing in between starts. The day I start, I go out there about 30 minutes ahead of time and I am able to take my time which I think is huge.

DZ: What’s the difference in mindset coming in when you might be in the game tonight versus knowing you are not going to pitch?

DUENSING: I am no longer on edge anymore. When you are in the pen, you are kind of on edge, you never know when you are going to throw. You just kind of take a peak at the line-up, watch how it’s going. It’s kind of nice to know on a night like tonight that I don’t have to worry about anything. I can watch Frankie (Francisco Liriano) pitch and maybe do a little studying on the Angels before they come into town and just kind of take it easy.

DZ: One last thing. Obviously, you want to be in the rotation, but at the same time that means someone else is struggling - a good friend like Nick Blackburn. How do you deal with that, have you talked to him at all?

DUENSING: I’ve talked him. I know him and his wife just had a baby which is great for them. I am happy for them. It’s tough because like you said he’s a good friend and you want to see him do well. When I first came up into the rotation I thought it was just going to be like a two or three week thing, a mental break and then put him back in there. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out like that for him. I saw he was throwing really well in Triple A. The good thing is that both Blackburn and I know this is a business and it’s nothing personal by any means. We stay in touch and we are still good friends and hopefully he is back up here soon.

See more of David Zingler’s interviews with Twins players:

July 29: Jesse Crain
July 23: Ron Mahay
July 21: Danny Valencia
July 11: Michael Cuddyer
July 8: Jason Repko
July 5: Nick Punto
June 12: Jason Kubel
June 9: Drew Butera
May 11: Denard Span
April 25: Justin Morneau
April 22: Alex Burnett
April 21: Mike Redmond
April 16: J.J. Hardy

One Response to “Q&A with Twins Starter Brian Duensing”

  1. Q&A with New Twins Closer Matt Capps » MinnesotaSCORE Says:

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    […] 19: Brian Duensing July 29: Jesse Crain July 23: Ron Mahay July 21: Danny Valencia July 11: Michael Cuddyer July 8: […]

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