Liriano's release point is off

The lefthander is 1-4 with a 9.13 ERA, and meanwhile, the team is trying to get Kevin Slowey stretched to return as a starter.

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Francisco Liriano earlier in April.

Photo: Nick Wass, Associated Press - Ap

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KANSAS CITY, MO. - Francisco Liriano met with Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson on Friday as the team tries to get the talented-yet-struggling lefthander turned around.

During the meeting, Liriano was shown a breakdown of his pitching motion. It revealed how Liriano's release point has been inconsistent, leading to him being unable to throw the ball where he wants to.

"It is not the answer," Gardenhire said, "but part of it."

Liriano is a 1-4 with a 9.13 ERA. He has walked 18 batters in 23 2/3 innings and has pitched at least six innings just once in five starts.

In what could be a related move, righthander Kevin Slowey will throw 65-70 pitches Monday during a rehab assignment in Fort Myers, Fla. Slowey is being stretched out as if he is going to start, but Gardenhire denied that Liriano is on the hot seat.

"We're going to let [Slowey] have another outing, get him good and stretched out, then if we have any issues we can put him in there, which I think we have seen over the last few days that we've had lots of pitching stuff [going on]," Gardenhire said. "We want Liriano to get going, yes, absolutely. Hopefully his next start will be better. We had a good conversation with him today with everything being positive and his arm slot and release point."

Liriano is scheduled to start Tuesday in Chicago.

Thome close

Slugger Jim Thome knows his bat is needed but said he can't push himself too hard as he recovers from a mild left oblique muscle strain that has knocked him out of action since Sunday.

Thome said he is about ready to return to the lineup. He took early and regular batting practice Friday with no problems.

"We just want to make sure we are careful with him," Gardenhire said. "If we put him in there and something happens, it could be a long time with him."

Gardenhire's concern is being shorthanded on the bench. If Thome still needs a day or two, he might have to be placed on the disabled list.

"We want to give him as many days here as we can, but he also understands the situation," Gardenhire said. "We can't wait too long here."

Thome is batting .226 with two homers and seven RBI.

Infirmary check

As for other injured Twins:

• Outfielder Jason Repko, who missed the three-game series against Tampa Bay, was cleared for action after recovering from a sore left quadriceps.

• Outfielder Delmon Young, on the 15-day DL, is being treated for his strained left oblique. He took a break from swinging Thursday but resumed Friday.

• Catcher Joe Mauer, working his way back from bilateral leg weakness, went through his entire routine Friday, but there were no indications if he was close to increasing activities.

• Second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka has been throwing and hitting, and he can run on a treadmill. The Twins were awaiting results of X-rays on his left fibula to make sure the bone was continuing to heal properly so they can increase his activities. There's been no talk of him taking his rehabilitation to Florida yet.

Etc.

• Tim Tschida and Jeff Nelson, both born in St. Paul, are part of the umpiring crew working the Twins-Royals series.

• Looking ahead to the two-game series vs. the White Sox next week, Liriano will face Edwin Jackson on Tuesday and Nick Blackburn will face John Danks on Wednesday.

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