The Minnesota Twins have named right-hander Jon Rauch their closer.
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Manager Ron Gardenhire announced the news before Friday's exhibition against the St. Louis Cardinals, the first scheduled contest at Target Field. Steady rain in the afternoon was putting the status of the game in doubt.
Rauch says he's eager to do the job. He says he first thought an April Fool's Day joke was being played on him, when told on Thursday of his assignment.
Gardenhire says it was important to define bullpen roles before the regular season begins so his relievers could focus. Rauch had 17 saves for the Washington Nationals in 2008, his only prior experience as a closer.
He's replacing four-time All-Star Joe Nathan, who is out for the season following elbow surgery.
Oddsmakers from online sports book SPORTSBETTING.com have made the Twins a 20/1 long shot to win the 2010 World Series.
Posted: 4/2/10 3:55PM ET