Francisco Liriano — once again — will be making a highly anticipated appearance in a Twins uniform when he takes the mound today.
KANSAS CITY, MO. — Twins pitcher Francisco Liriano is no stranger to the anticipation surrounding him today, as he pitches in his first major league game in exactly 19 months.
He arrived in the big leagues to much acclaim in September 2005. And after opening the 2006 season in the Twins bullpen, he ceremoniously joined the starting rotation on May 19, 2006, at Milwaukee.
So when he rejoined the Twins on Saturday and was asked about today's start vs. the Royals, he said he wasn't the least bit nervous.
"Not at all," Liriano said. "Not really, not now. We'll see [today]."
Liriano's last official game was Sept. 13, 2006, when he walked off the Metrodome mound against Oakland because of severe pain in his left elbow. He had Tommy John reconstructive surgery on Nov. 6, 2006, so he has had 17 full months to rehabilitate into form.
"He could be huge for us," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "If he goes out and does his thing and tries not to overthrow the ball -- a lefthander in this league with good stuff can do a lot of damage. So, it's exciting."
Liriano posted a 7.56 ERA in two minor league starts and needed 88 pitches to get through four innings Tuesday for Class AAA Rochester.
Even though Rochester manager Stan Cliburn thought Liriano's command was off, he noted that Liriano was fearless in throwing his slider and changeup.
"I did OK," Liriano said, noting that he needs to throw more fastballs. "[Today], throw strikes, hit my spots and we'll see what can happen."
Liriano has two years and 32 days of major league service time, and assuming he stays in the big leagues the rest of the season, he will be eligible for salary arbitration at season's end, which will drive his salary well past $1 million.
He earned one year of major league service last year while on the disabled list, recovering from surgery. But he was not earning service time the past two weeks with Rochester.
If the Twins had waited longer to promote him, he might not have reached the threshold -- three years -- to qualify for arbitration.
Nick Punto got his second start of the season, spelling third baseman Mike Lamb. Punto entered Saturday with only three at-bats all season but went 2-for-3 with a walk in the Twins' 2-0 victory over Kansas City.
"[Punto's] going to end up coming into a tie ballgame, and you have to give them at-bats so they're prepared to have a little success and maybe help you win a game," Gardenhire said.
Gardenhire said catcher Mike Redmond might get his second start of the year today, as well, which would give Joe Mauer a break with a day game after a night game.
With Matt Tolbert entering Saturday batting .556, Gardenhire kept him in the lineup at shortstop, giving Adam Everett another chance to rest his sore shoulder in the cold weather. Tolbert went 0-for-4 Saturday.
Tolbert left the ballpark Friday with an unusual present, as his teammates had rounded up the actual base he stole for his first career stolen base. That's one clunky keepsake.
|NY Mets||4||Bottom 7th Inning|
|Boston||1||Bottom 2nd Inning|
|Toronto||0||Bottom 2nd Inning|
|Oklahoma City||7:00 PM|
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|Toronto||0||1st Prd 11:17|
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|Western Ky||39||2nd Half|
|Temple||27||1st Half 6:34|
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|USC Upstate||27||2nd Half|
|Fla Gulf Coast||25|
|Southern Ill||25||2nd Half|
|Texas State||6||1st Half 12:15|
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|Middle Tennessee||12||1st Half 9:36|
|Texas-Arlington||28||1st Half 11:38|
|Norfolk State||6:30 PM|
|NC A&T||6:30 PM|
|Savannah State||7:00 PM|
|Southern Miss||7:00 PM|
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|Ark-Little Rock||7:15 PM|
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|Georgia||60||2nd Half 2:52|
|Ark-Little Rock||60||2nd Half 4:10|
|South Alabama||57||2nd Half 2:17|
|Sam Houston St||47||2nd Half 10:16|
|SE Louisiana||48||2nd Half 11:28|
|Northwestern St||32||2nd Half 12:22|
|Stephen F Austin||30|
|Alabama A&M||35||2nd Half 13:12|
|Alabama State||27||2nd Half 16:50|
|Southern U||48||2nd Half 15:48|
|Alcorn State||37||2nd Half 12:10|
|Miss Valley St||0|
|Wofford||41||2nd Half 7:17|
|Abilene Christian||34||2nd Half|
|La Salle||29||2nd Half|
|TX-San Antonio||28||1st Half 0:02|
|Missouri State||26||2nd Half|
|Georgia Tech||7:00 PM|
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|Florida Atlantic||7:00 PM|
|Texas-El Paso||7:00 PM|
|Wichita State||7:00 PM|
|San Francisco||8:00 PM|
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|Northern Ariz||9:00 PM|
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