Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Friday update: Liriano, Neshek, Liddle, Mauer

Posted by: Phil Miller under MLB, Off the field Updated: March 12, 2010 - 12:02 PM

FORT MYERS, FLA. -- The Mets made it to Hammond Stadium, after driving across the state from Port St. Lucie, before today's game was cancelled.

The Twins wound up taking batting practice in the cages. Pitchers tried to play catch before more rain chased them off the field.

Manager Ron Gardenhire still held his daily press briefing. Some highlights:

* Asked if Francisco Liriano is a closer candidate, assuming Joe Nathan can't do it, Gardenhire said every pitcher in camp is a candidate, aside from the team's top four starters: Scott Baker, Carl Pavano, Nick Blackburn and Kevin Slowey.

* Asked about Pat Neshek's closing prospects, Gardenhire said, "There’s a ways to go. He hasn’t had the adrenaline flow of facing a hitter in a long time, and as soon as he did, he couldn’t walk for two days [because of a sore hamstring], and he didn’t do drills for a couple days. That’s where you’re at with Shaq. He’s got a ways to go. I think the arm’s OK, but the rest of the body didn’t cooperate, so there’s issues, we’ll see."

I spoke to Neshek earlier today and he said his hamstring feels better. He's eager to show what he's got over the final three weeks of camp.

* Bench coach Steve Liddle, who is in the hospital after experiencing chest pains, left a message for Gardenhire and sounded upbeat. "He went through a lot of tests last night and is going through a test this morning that's going to be all-day event," Gardenhire said. "Everything seems to have checked out so far from the gallbladder on up. They're doing some more testing on his heart and all that stuff."

* Gardenhire said Joe Mauer's right shoulder is sore from a foul tip Thursday night. Mauer won't play Saturday against the Phillies, but this isn't a big concern.

* Some upcoming pitching assignments:

Saturday vs. Philly: Pavano, Blackburn, Condrey, Mijares, Neshek, Slama, Swarzak, Burnett
Sunday vs. Boston:
Slowey, Perkins
Monday vs. Florida: Liriano, Duensing
Tuesday vs. Baltimore: Baker
Wednesday vs. Tampa Bay: Blackburn/Perkins

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