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Twins bolster 'pen with Rauch, Mahay

Twins acquire Rauch, Mahay

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins have been searching for bullpen help for the past two months. On Friday, the club was finally able to bolster its relief staff by adding not one, but two veteran relievers.

The club officially announced that they had acquired right-hander Jon Rauch from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for a player to be named. A Major League source also confirmed that the team had signed left-hander Ron Mahay, who was released by the Royals this week.

Rauch, 30, went 2-2 with a 4.14 ERA and two saves for the D-backs in 54 1/3 innings. He allowed three runs in one inning on Tuesday in his last outing for Arizona but was scored upon in only one of his previous 11 outings.

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The 38-year-old Mahay was let go by the Royals after they had designated him for assignment. He had a 1-1 record with a 4.79 ERA in 41 relief appearances (41 1/3 innings) for Kansas City this season. The signing of Mahay won't be announced until Saturday, when both he and Rauch are expected to join the club in Minnesota.

Twins general manager Bill Smith would only discuss Rauch on Friday night, saying the club was glad to add the 6-foot-11 reliever, whose 305 appearances since the beginning of the 2006 season are the most in the Major Leagues.

"We need some veteran help in that bullpen, and he'll bring that to us," Smith said. "We're confident that he's going to help stabilize our bullpen."

With the Twins trailing first-place Detroit by 4 1/2 games in the American League Central, the club's front office has been looking for help in the midst of a pennant chase. Rauch and Mahay are just the latest acquisitions made by Smith, who had addressed other needs in the past month by trading for shortstop Orlando Cabrera and starting pitcher Carl Pavano.

By adding Rauch and Mahay, the Twins will gain much-needed experience in a bullpen that's been lacking it of late. Besides Joe Nathan, Matt Guerrier and Jose Mijares, the Twins have had trouble finding relievers they can turn to in the late innings.

In an attempt to help their relief staff, the Twins have had to bring up quite a few young arms, such as Jeff Manship, Brian Duensing, Bobby Keppel and Anthony Swarzak from Triple-A Rochester to fill holes.

"You don't want to continue to have to come in with young starters from Triple-A out of the bullpen," Gardenhire said. "That was one of the things we were looking for is some veteran help out there that can come in these situations when you get a couple guys on and be ready for it."

The expectation is that Rauch, who is the tallest player in Major League history, will be in the mix for a spot in the late innings.

"Whatever it takes to win ballgames. We'll figure out where he fits and go from there," Gardenhire said. "He's been there and done it. He knows how to get ready in the bullpen. He's got a huge angle on the ball. He likes to compete."

Gardenhire couldn't comment on Mahay since the deal had not officially been announced. But Mahay will give the Twins a second left-hander in the 'pen. Mijares is currently the only southpaw since the club recently moved Duensing into the rotation. Over his 13-year career, Mahay has a 25-11 record with a 3.89 ERA. The Twins will be Mahay's eighth Major League club.

To make room for Rauch on the 25-man roster, the Twins outrighted right-hander Philip Humber to Rochester. Right-hander Armando Gabino was optioned back to Rochester after Friday's contest, clearing space on the roster for Mahay.

By joining the Twins, Rauch and Mahay will find themselves back in the hunt for the postseason. For Rauch, he'll be moving from a team that was 20 games back in the National League West to the Twins, who are currently trying to make a push for their fifth AL Central title in the last eight years.

"It's definitely a good opportunity to get back with a team that's in a playoff race after things didn't go so well in Arizona this year," Rauch said during a conference call on Friday. "I'm looking for a fresh beginning and a new start with a different organization."

While Rauch got off to a rough start -- posting a 9.31 ERA in April -- he has improved drastically of late. From June 30 until Aug. 23, Rauch had allowed just four runs in 20 outings.

The Twins had discussions with the D-backs about Rauch before the July 31 Trade Deadline, and they decided to claim the right-hander when Arizona put him on waivers. Rauch will likely be with the Twins for their first season in Target Field as well, as the D-backs exercised a $2.9 million option for 2010 in October and the Twins pick up that contract.

"We're pleased about that," Smith said. "We're glad to have him for the rest of this year and next year."

The right-hander will wear No. 60 for the Twins. Although he had worn No. 57 in Arizona and initially had been given that number to wear with the Twins, he said that he didn't want to take it since it had formerly belonged to Johan Santana, so he made the switch.

"It didn't treat me very well in Arizona," Rauch said. "And I didn't think it was fair for Johan and the things that he did for that organization when he was there. So I just wanted a different number."

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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