Anticipation aside, team considering a break for Liriano

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 5, 2011 - 1:23 PM

Follow-up to no-hitter is scheduled for national TV game Monday in Boston, but his taxed arm is in line for extra recovery time.

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After Tuesday night's no-hitter, Francisco Liriano (center) might get a little extra rest before his next start.

Photo: Tom Cruze, Associated Press

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CHICAGO - Johnny Vander Meer can wait.

After firing his improbable no-hitter Tuesday, Twins lefthander Francisco Liriano is scheduled to make his next start Monday in Boston.

That's an ESPN game, and the network probably can't wait to hype Liriano's bid to become the first pitcher to throw consecutive no- hitters since Vander Meer did it for Cincinnati in 1938.

But the Twins might have other plans. Manager Ron Gardenhire said Liriano could wait to pitch until Tuesday, at home against Detroit, which would give him six days' rest after matching his career high with 123 pitches.

"We have to see how he is within a couple days here," Gardenhire said.

Liriano, 27, said he didn't feel any sorer than usual Wednesday morning. He was a little tired, but that's understandable.

He said he received 55 text messages and didn't have time to watch highlights because he was on the phone.

"My mom called me, my dad, my brothers and sisters, all my friends and cousins," said Liriano, who is married with two young kids and has six brothers and sisters in the Dominican Republic. "They were still calling until probably 4 in the morning."

It had been quite a night. Liriano pitched the Twins to a 1-0 victory over the White Sox, striking out two and walking six. He entered with a 9.13 ERA, the highest for any pitcher (after at least five previous starts) heading into a no-hitter, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"I think it's a big weight off his shoulders," Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson said. "If a guy says he's not pressing, he's lying. Our team in general, you look at our offense, our pitching and our bullpen -- they have to be pressing."

The Twins hadn't seen Liriano smile like this in quite a while. Perhaps this will boost his confidence.

In more technical terms, Liriano saw the benefits of simplifying his repertoire. He generally throws two fastballs: a two-seamer with more movement and a four-seamer with more speed.

On Sunday, Liriano told Anderson he felt like he was "getting killed" with the two-seam fastball. Anderson told him to put it in his pocket.

"I needed to hear that because I didn't want them to get mad at me or anything like that," Liriano said. "I wasn't feeling comfortable pitching like that, and they told me, 'Just go out there and do your thing. Don't worry about anything at all. Just go out there and have fun.' "

It worked. Liriano's changeup was his best pitch, especially in the late innings. For the first time in 205 professional starts -- minors and majors -- he finished with a complete game.

"I didn't expect to throw a no-hitter or a complete game because I didn't think I had my best stuff," he said. "So it was kind of crazy for me."

It still seemed crazy Wednesday, as he did another series of interviews. The Twins were enjoying every minute of it, especially knowing Thursday's open date will allow them to juggle their rotation in Boston, so Liriano can finally get some rest.

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