Arm pain benches Liriano

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 8, 2006 - 8:38 AM

DETROIT - The Comerica Park scoreboard didn't explain half of the Twins' horror after Monday night's 9-3 defeat to the Detroit Tigers.

DETROIT - The Comerica Park scoreboard didn't explain half of the Twins' horror after Monday night's 9-3 defeat to the Detroit Tigers.

Francisco Liriano, Minnesota's rookie All-Star, is out indefinitely with what appears to be a left elbow injury.

After missing his previous start because of an injury described as forearm inflammation, Liriano (12-3) left this start after giving up four runs on a career-high 10 hits in four innings.

In a quiet postgame clubhouse, Liriano, 22, seemed on the verge of tears, and his voice crackled as he described the pain, pointing to the inside of the elbow this time, beneath the muscle and possibly in the joint.

He had an MRI exam on July 31 and said he was relieved to learn there was no structural damage in the elbow, just the muscle inflammation.

Manager Ron Gardenhire said Liriano will be reexamined by orthopedic physician Dan Buss after the team returns to Minnesota on Wednesday.

Asked if he is more scared this time, Liriano said: "Yeah, because it bothered me. It's getting worse, you know."

Gardenhire was more measured, saying the injury appeared to be muscular again.

"He just came off the mound [after the fourth inning], and we asked him how he's doing," Gardenhire said. "We said, 'Are you OK?' And he wouldn't really give us any definitive answer."

Liriano repeatedly had said his arm felt "fine" and "normal" after resuming his throwing program last week. He had taken anti-inflammatory drugs and said the pain was gone.

He hadn't pitched since holding these same Tigers to two runs over eight innings on July 28 and said he was eager to return to the mound.

His fastball reached 96 miles per hour and, with his wicked slider working at times, he notched five strikeouts.

"I couldn't even throw the fastball, slider, changeup, anything," Liriano said. "It bothered me every pitch I threw."

As Liriano dressed by his locker, teammate Carlos Silva went to him not with encouragement but caution.

"I tried to tell him, 'You need to worry,' " Silva said. "Of course, you don't want to lose that guy, especially in the situation we're in. But he's got to take care of his future.

"If you're going to lose him, it's better to lose him for two weeks than for his future."

Gardenhire said the team has to wait to see what the doctors say.

"If we lose him out of the rotation, sure it's a tough blow," Gardenhire said. "I mean, he's been one of our better pitchers.

"But you know what? We've been through a lot here, and it's not going to be the end of this baseball team, no matter which way we go.

"I don't want to put the cart before the horse here. But the one thing we do know is we will be very cautious with this young man, and we have been. He felt it a little bit, and he was out. I wasn't going to take a chance."

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