CHICAGO - Scout summits take place at ballparks across the major leagues at this time of year, and there was a big one at U.S. Cellular Field on Monday.
The Braves, Pirates, Cubs and Marlins were among the group at the Twins-White Sox game. A scout can be looking at a variety of players, but several were interested in Twins lefthander Francisco Liriano, whose recent run of strong outings had vaulted him to the top handful of available pitchers prior to the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline.
With so many eyes on him Monday, Frankie faltered.
Chicago hitters teed off, smashing three home runs off him, sending him to the showers with two outs in the third inning. The White Sox didn't score again, but they had all the offense they needed to beat the Twins 7-4 in the first game of a three-game series.
In 2 2/3 innings, Liriano gave up seven runs on seven hits with a walk and two strikeouts in his shortest start since April 17. He gave up a three-run homer in the first inning to Paul Konerko (a high fastball) and two-run shots to Adam Dunn (a bad slider) and Alex Rios (a nothing slider) in the third.
"One of those days where I couldn't throw anything down in the zone," Liriano said. "I didn't have anything going for me tonight."
Liriano entered Monday with a 3-4 record and 2.84 ERA in his previous 10 starts. His recent performances had raised his trade value and made some wonder if the Twins should just keep the 28-year-old, who can become a free agent after the season.
One bad outing shouldn't wipe out his trade value -- but it was a reminder of what Liriano (3-10) was the first two months of the season.
The Yankees, Angels, Red Sox, Reds, Nationals and Rangers are among teams looking to add starting pitching. If the Phillies are able to sign Cole Hamels to a contract extension, Liriano could be the best available lefthanded starter.
Teams also might wait to see where the Cubs' Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza land before taking a serious look at Liriano.
Despite his name being tossed around in rumors, Liriano has remained his same nonplussed self. There are no indications that the Twins have approached him about a contract extension.
"I would like to be here," he said. "I have been here my whole [major league] career, so I would like to stay here for a couple years. It's not my call. I want to stay here but we will see what happens."
Liriano isn't the only Twins player to draw interest. Some teams are interested in center fielder Denard Span as a leadoff hitter. The Marlins showed interest recently but now appear to be sellers more than buyers.
And according to a Yahoo! Sports report Monday, the Twins are listening to offers for first baseman Justin Morneau. It's hard to determine his trade value because some teams, the Dodgers for one, have him only as a secondary option because of concerns over his concussion history.
Several teams would be interested in Josh Willingham if the Twins were willing to shop him. They will listen but likely won't deal their leading run producer.
The Twins scored runs in the first and second innings Monday, but the White Sox power display put them ahead 7-2 by the third. Chicago's Gavin Floyd, just off the disabled list, walked six but held the Twins to two earned runs and six hits over six innings.
That's right. Six hits and six walks. Floyd was there for the taking, but the Twins tied a club record by grounding into five double plays. They were 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position.
"We got a lot of men on base," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said, "but kept hitting into double plays."