Liriano's next chance arrives

  • Article by: LA VELLE E. NEAL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 29, 2012 - 10:10 PM
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Twins pitcher Francisco Liriano

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune file

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The Twins' search for stability in their starting rotation has brought them back to lefthander Francisco Liriano.

Liriano will return to the rotation for the first time since May 7 when he faces the Athletics on Wednesday at Target Field. He was moved to the bullpen to work on throwing strikes and to get a mental break after starting the season 0-5 with a 9.45 ERA.

There's some evidence that the change helped Liriano. He posted a 4.91 ERA as a reliever and held opponents to a .250 batting average, but he walked seven batters in 7 1/3 innings. He'll have to prove that he can throw more strikes than he did earlier in the season.

"My problem was getting behind in the count and walking too many guys," Liriano said.

Liriano said he wants to prove he's a better pitcher than he's shown.

"I've always wanted to be a starter, and to get that opportunity means a lot to me," Liriano said. "I'm going to go out there tomorrow and try to go deeper in the ballgame and see if I can give the team a chance to win.

"One inning at a time, we'll see. But I'm very excited to be going back to starting. I hope I can do my job this time."

Twins General Manager Terry Ryan made it clear that the club expects a different Liriano on Wednesday.

"It's an important start for him,'' Ryan said. "It's one more opportunity for him to impress upon us that he can give us a decent start."

Komatsu back to Nats

Outfielder Erik Komatsu, designated for assignment on Sunday to make room for Jeff Manship, cleared waivers and was offered to the Washington Nationals, who took him back.

Komatsu was a Rule 5 draft pick of the Cardinals in December. When the Twins claimed him off waivers earlier this year, his Rule 5 rights came with him. So he had to be offered back to the Nationals.

No Manny-mania here

Oakland isn't expected to activate slugger Manny Ramirez in time for Wednesday's series finale.

"It would be hard to get him here in time for a day game," A's manager Bob Melvin said.

Ramirez is 8-for-32 with no extra-base hits at Class AAA Sacramento as he works his way into playing shape, which probably is another reason why he'll remain there for now.

Ramirez is making a comeback after walking away from the game last year after violating the league's drug policy and being slapped with a 100-game suspension. That suspension was later reduced to 50 games, which ended Tuesday.

Ryan was asked about Manny-mania not coming to Target Field.

"I'm not sure what Manny-mania is," he said.

Blackburn rehab begins

Righthander Nick Blackburn, pitching for Class AAA Rochester on Tuesday, gave up three earned runs over 3 2/3 innings on four hits and three walks with two strikeouts. He threw 68 pitches.

It was the first of what is expected to be two minor league rehabilitation stints before he returns to the Twins. Blackburn's next start is scheduled for Sunday, when he should be able to increase his workload to about 85 pitches.

Etc.

• Drew Butera threw an inning in Milwaukee during a 16-4 loss to the Brewers, but he's not the Butera with the most innings pitched. His father, Sal, threw one inning for Montreal in 1985 and another in 1986 for Cincinnati.

• Lefthander Phil Dumatrait, who pitched in 45 games for the Twins last year, has decided to retire after attempting to rehabilitate his shoulder.

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