The Twins could have shifted Francisco Liriano to a relief role, but they say what he needs most right now is a mental break.
So they plan to skip him the next time through the rotation, with his next start scheduled for May 1 against the Angels.
Manager Ron Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson met with Liriano on Monday, one day after the lefthander turned in his fourth disappointing start of the season, falling to 0-3 with an 11.02 ERA with a loss at Tampa Bay.
"I'm not sure what the magic potion is," General Manager Terry Ryan said. "I'm hoping Rick and Gardy can work their magic because we need him."
Liriano won't be available to pitch in relief during his hiatus. He is scheduled to throw two bullpen sessions to work on his mechanics.
"Believe me, we went through all of this, every bit of it, more than you can imagine," Gardenhire said.
"We're going to do what's right for him, and that's not coming out of the bullpen and getting in trouble out there -- and, if you happen to do that, making it worse.
"We're going to get him straightened out and let him relax a little."
What perplexes Anderson is that Liriano has looked outstanding in his bullpen sessions but can't seem to transfer that into the games.
His ERA in the first inning is 0.00, but it's 13.50 for the second inning and 21.60 for the third.
The Twins have told him to throw from one spot on the pitching rubber at all times, to help maintain a consistent arm slot. Liriano agrees this is a good idea, but still winds up shifting from one side of the rubber to the other, depending on whether he's facing a lefthanded or righthanded hitter.
"Sometimes he'll have that good inning, and you think, 'Wow,' " Anderson said.
"And then he gets a runner on, and he admits he tries to do too much instead of staying with the plan."
Willingham nears paternity leave
Josh Willingham's wife, Ginger, is scheduled to deliver the couple's third baby on Wednesday, so the Twins plan to place him on paternity leave, allowing another player -- likely Ben Revere from Class AAA Rochester -- to take his roster spot for up to three days.
Players have long left their teams for the birth of a child, but it wasn't until last year that Major League Baseball began allowing teams to replace them on the roster for up to three days.
After starting the season's first 16 games in left field, Willingham got a chance to DH on Monday. Gardenhire said he had planned to let Willingham do that last weekend in Tampa Bay, but since he was riding a 15-game hitting streak until Sunday, he didn't want to jinx it.
Alexi Casilla was scratched from the starting lineup because of flu-like symptoms, so Trevor Plouffe made his first start of the season at second base. Chris Parmelee got his first career start in left field, where Plouffe had been in the original lineup.
Wimmers injures elbow
Righthanded pitcher Alex Wimmers, the Twins' 2010 first-round draft pick, has been placed on the disabled list at Class AA New Britain because of a strained flexor in his right elbow. Ryan said the injury doesn't appear to be serious.