Tag:Francisco Liriano
Posted on: July 29, 2010 9:16 pm
Edited on: July 29, 2010 9:41 pm
 

Twins, Nationals talking Capps

The Twins, having veered away from their first choice of starting pitching because of the lack of it in this year's trade market, are deciding tonight how much Washington closer Matt Capps is worth to them.

Looking to add bullpen help in lieu of finding a starter, the Twins are in deep discussions with the Nationals, who are requiring a high-level prospect in return, sources with knowledge of the discussions have told CBSSports.com. The high-level prospect currently at the top of Washington's wish list from the Twins is catcher Wilson Ramos, sources say. One sign of how serious the Twins-Nationals talks have become: Ramos was a late scratch from Triple-A Rochester's lineup tonight, according to LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Capps, who has 25 saves and a 2.80 ERA in 46 appearances for the Nationals, would give manager Ron Gardenhire another late-innings option to go with closer Jon Rauch and set-up men Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain and Jose Mijares. The Twins recently recalled reliever Anthony Slama as well but are not sure how he will respond during the heat of a pennant race.

As for the others, Capps could close on days when Rauch is not available, or mix into the seventh and eighth innings.

The Nationals are looking to get something in return for Capps, who is a free agent this winter and would be cut loose because Drew Storen is the club's closer of the future. Capps is due a little less than $1 million in salary for the rest of this summer, but the Twins have money to spend.

Theoretically, they intended to spent it on a starting pitcher to boost a lagging rotation after Carl Pavano and Francisco Liriano, but the Twins have had difficulty even finding a quality starter who would consider them. They talked with Houston about Roy Oswalt, but Oswalt had the Twins on his no-trade list. So, too, did Dan Haren -- about whom the Twins also inquired. Ditto for Ted Lilly, whom the Cubs are looking to move but in whom there is far less interest than there was in Oswalt or Haren.

The Twins into Thursday were second in the AL Central, trailing the Chicago White Sox by one game.

Posted on: April 15, 2010 5:56 pm
 

Tough Liriano good sign for Twins

MINNEAPOLIS -- Ten games into their season, the Twins are on a high after taking series' from three contenders (Angels, White Sox and Red Sox) and winning their first three series for the first time in a season since 1987.

But if Thursday's 8-0 win was a potential glimpse of lefty Francisco Liriano's 2010 season, the best might be yet to come.

Liriano, coming off of a 5-13 season while returning from Tommy John ligament transfer surgery, shut out Boston for seven innings in an 8-0 Twins romp and showed a repertoire that could become one of the Twins' most lethal weapons.

"If he can get back to the Liriano everyone keeps saying he was, he's going to be real big for us," Twins center fielder Denard Span said.

In holding Boston to four hits and striking out eight over his seven innings, Liriano threw 96 pitches. What the Twins liked best was that he relied on catcher Joe Mauer and threw his fastball often early, saving his slider for later. Last year, he often didn't trust his fastball and relied too heavily on his slider.

"We've talked all along," Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson said. "I've told him, 'That slider is your out pitch, but if you overuse it early, it's not going to be an out pitch. If you keep it in your back pocket, they'll swing at it later in the game.'"

Liriano threw a filthy slider to Kevin Youkilis for a called strike three in the first inning -- plate umpire Tim Tschida might have been a bit generous -- but saved many of the 26 sliders he wound up throwing until later in his outing.

The key with Liriano using his fastball is that it can open up the other side of the plate for him. His hard-biting slider sinks quickly down-and-in to right-handed hitters. By throwing his fastball to the other side of the plate, it keeps hitters from guarding one side of the plate.

When Liriano went 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA as a rookie in '06 before his elbow injury, his slider was one of the nastiest pitches in the game.

"I can always remember facing him and going, wow," says Twins designated hitter Jim Thome, who was with the White Sox in '06. "For me, he was one of the toughest left-handers I've seen. Randy Johnson, in his prime. ... Liriano, with his slider, was the same feeling. You'd have to bear down."

Anderson thinks Liriano's slider is "close" to what it was in '06.

"It's pretty good," the pitching coach said. "It's got that late bite back. Last year, you didn't see as many swings and misses."

This year, if Liriano continues to gain confidence, look out.

******

One last thought on the Twins' beautiful new Target Field: While there are several gorgeous parks around that are still fairly new -- the parks in San Francisco and Pittsburgh come to mind -- nobody has done as an impressive a job of incorporating club history into the park as the Twins.

From naming the gates after players whose jerseys are retired (Rod Carew and Kirby Puckett, to name two) to the countless photos and memorabilia stations throughout the park to the dozens of old Sports Illustrated covers, media guide covers and yearbook covers decorating the press box, lunch room and concourses, the Twins set the standard.

It extends down to the clubhouse, where Puckett and two-time World Series-winning manager Tom Kelly are represented with class -- in quotes.

On one end of the clubhouse, above a door leading to the trainer's room, an eerie and poignant Puckett quote is spelled out in silver letters on a blue wall: "Live for today. Tomorrow isn't promised to anyone."

At the other end of the clubhouse, above a door leading toward the tunnel that takes the Twins to the field, there's this Kelly quote: "We're all in this boat together. Everybody grab an oar."

******

Funny, the most-heard phrase around Target Field and Minneapolis this week as everyone has been talking/worrying about/fretting over the weather has been this: "Don't worry, when Joe Mauer comes to bat, the sun will come out."

Likes: Denard Span's mother was not at the Target Field opening, but it's not because she's feeling ill effects from when she was hit by a foul ball lined by her son in Tampa the final week of the exhibition season. She's good," Span says. "She was mad I came out of the game. I brought 20 family members to that game. It was an eventful week. She was sore for a couple of days." The reason Denard's mother wasn't here? She didn't trust the Twin Cities weather. "She's coming in May," Span says. Good plan for a Florida native, though the weather here this week is tremendous. ... The Mary Tyler Moore statue on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. She could always turn the world on with her smile. ... Café Latte on Grand Ave. in St. Paul. The Tres Leche cake is phenomenal. ... Adele's Frozen Custard in Excelsior. Might even be better than the Tres Leche cake.

Dislikes: Early morning flights.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Who can turn the world on with her smile?
"Who can take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?
"Well it's you girl, and you should know it
"With each glance and every little movement you show it
"Love is all around, no need to waste it
"You can have a town, why don't you take it
"You're gonna make it after all"

-- Paul Williams, Love is All Around

Posted on: February 26, 2008 6:17 pm
 

Relief in Toronto

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Perfect late-game world for Toronto, closer B.J. Ryan returns strong from Tommy John ligament transfer surgery in April, which moves Jeremy Accardo and Brandon League into set-up roles.

Of course, Ryan is only 10 months out from a surgery that once took two years to return from. Now, the way the surgery has evolved, relievers sometimes can make it back in a year, and Ryan is pushing even that.

"I'm working hard to come in and show them I can be healthy and back to help the team," says Ryan, who likely will pitch live batting practice for the first time later this week.

Currently, Ryan is throwing a bullpen session followed by two days off before his next bullpen session. Within a couple of weeks, he'll advance to one day off between throwing. And when he's ready for games, Toronto will use him first in minor-league games so that the Jays can control the number of pitches he throws.

"We'll still have to monitor it during the season," manager John Gibbons says. "But Accardo proved to us last year that he can (close).

"Sometimes you'll have to slap yourself and say, 'Are you doing the right thing?'"

As for League, he's mostly been under the radar nationally, but he could play an important part if the Blue Jays are to be as good as they think they can be this year. He had a muscle problem in his shoulder last spring that caused him to lose 10 m.p.h. off of his fastball. Toronto had to shut him down, and League only threw 11 innings last season.

Gibbons says he now looks like the League of old and, "he's back in the mix. There are no limitations on him."

As Gibbons notes, League last year was going to be Toronto's eighth-inning guy. If he can re-emerge, and if Ryan can return ... well, let's just say the late innings in Toronto could be a whole lot more fun for the Blue Jays.

Likes: David Eckstein looks odd in a Toronto uniform, and he didn't get the multi-year contract he sought after battling a bad back last year and seeing his errors total shoot up to 20 from six in '06, but he's everything that's right about the game of baseball. Hard worker, little guy using all of his talent to succeed, a genuine nice guy. ... Scott Rolen out of St. Louis. It'll be nice to see what he can do without a maniacal manager. ... Francisco Liriano on his way to Twins camp. ... Monroe (Mich.) St. Mary Catholic Central 49, Clinton 38 in a boys' basketball district tournament opener on Monday night. Here's hoping the Falcons can whip Romulus Summit Academy on Wednesday night. ... Also, a belated congratulations to St. Mary Catholic Central coach Ray Lauwers, in his 41st year at the school and an old teacher of mine, for notching his 600th career victory last week. Lauwers, already in the Michigan  became only the fourth coach in Michigan boys high school history to earn win No. 600. ... Fatburger. ... The ribs at Lee Roy Selmon's barbecue joint. ... Wilson Phillips' California disc.

Dislikes: Lousy concert schedule around Florida this spring. It's always a fun diversion when something lines up during spring training -- in past years, I've seen Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Buffett and Bonnie Raitt here -- but this year's it's bone dry.

Sunblock day? Yes, but not for long. Temps in the mid-80s today and hot. But the clouds are moving in this afternoon, thunderstorms are forecast and Wednesday's high -- high -- is supposed to be only 60. Yikes!

Rock-n-Roll lyric of the day:

"Everybody is a star
"I can feel it when you shine on me
"I love you for who you are
"Not the one you feel you need to be
"Ever catch a falling star
"Ain't no stopping 'til it's in the ground
"Everybody is a star
"One big circle going round and round"

-- Sly and the Family Stone, Everyday People

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com