Chalk this one up under winter hope springs eternal:

Yes, it was only "winter league," but Francisco Liriano looked awfully sharp Thursday night when he struck out 10, walked none and gave up only 1 hit in 5 innings in the Dominican Winter League championship game. What I noticed -- and this is echoed by Twins Geek in his post -- wasn't so much the fastball as the bite on the slider. I'm not going to fall in love with a webcast radar gun that shows 95-96. What was very cool thought was the biting slider, about 8-9 miles per hour slower, that totally flummoxed his overmatched opponents.

You can find the game replay here.  Be sure to check out the second inning at-bat when Wilson Betemit is left holding a wood fragment after Liriano nastily amputated his bat.

***

Joe C. and La Velle have a spring training/TwinsFest preview video that they shot Thursday afternoon. It's 6 minutes of baseball talk -- and there's something in this video you aren't likely to see for the rest of the year. Watch and then ask yourself if ZZ Top was right when they made this claim.

***

Did a quick Target Field walk-through this afternoon and learned that Mauer and Morneau have claimed one corner of the clubhouse as their own. It's the corner with the double-wide locker for Mauer's catching gear. The new clubhouse makes the Metrodome version look like a walk-in clothes closet. They also had the center field video screen going through a dry run -- with this lineup posted:

Span, cf; Hardy, ss; Mauer, c; Morneau 1b; Kubel, dh; Cuddyer, rf; Young, lf; Harris, 3b; Punto, 2b.

Darn, no Evan Longoria.

***

I hope some of you will come visit at the Star Tribune TwinsFest booth from noon to 1 p.m. Saturday. It's beyond the third-base dugout, just to the infield side of the KSTP area. I'll be the tall guy in the Canada baseball or the Rochester Redwings hoodie. Haven't made a final choice.

Enjoy the weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

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