MINNEAPOLIS -- Francisco Liriano's determination to pitch
with pain looks like it will land him on the disabled list.
"You want percentages, it would be 99.999 that he would go on
the disabled list," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said before
the Twins' game at Detroit on Tuesday night.
Liriano -- 12-3 with a league-leading 2.19 ERA -- missed a start
on Aug. 2 with inflammation in his left forearm, but returned to
the rotation on Monday night against the Tigers. He gave up four
runs and a season-high 10 hits in just four innings, saying after
the game that the pain had gotten worse and moved closer to his
Gardenhire said Tuesday he was concerned because Liriano had
told coaches that he was feeling fine heading into that start.
"The problem is, he's been trying to pitch through this
thing," Gardenhire said. "He has told us that he's been fine, but
I don't think he's really been fine. We just want him to be up
front with us because he's a 22-year-old man, and we have to
protect his young arm."
Liriano will have "an extensive, advanced MRI" when the team
returns to Minneapolis on Thursday, Gardenhire said. "More than
likely, we'll put him on the disabled list and bring in a pitcher
to start Saturday."
"We'd love to see him take the ball, and he's been a huge boost to our rotation and we'll miss him. But we want him to understand it's about taking care of his arm so he's here for many, many years."
Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said of Liriano's ailments
Losing Liriano would be a crippling blow to the Twins' playoff
hopes. His move from the bullpen to the starting rotation in May
coincided with a remarkable run by the Twins that helped them
rebound from a poor start and get right back into the AL wild card
race. They entered Tuesday night a half game behind Boston and
Chicago in the AL wild card race.
But the Twins aren't taking any chances with one of the best
young pitchers in the game.
"We'd love to see him take the ball, and he's been a huge boost
to our rotation and we'll miss him," Gardenhire said. "But we
want him to understand it's about taking care of his arm so he's
here for many, many years."
In preparation for a seemingly imminent move, the Twins
purchased the contract of right-hander Matt Garza from Triple-A
Rochester on Tuesday.
Garza, the team's first-round draft pick in 2005, has made a
fast rise through the minors, dominating at every stop. He was 3-1
with a 1.85 ERA and 33 strikeouts in five starts for the Red Wings.
In his minor league career, Garza is 18-8 with a 2.73 ERA and 243
strikeouts in 37 starts.
The Twins have long believed in not rushing young arms to the
big leagues, but they don't have many other options right now.
"He's got a good head on his shoulders, a great fastball and he
locates well," Gardenhire said of Garza. "He worked his way
through the system in one year. We saw him in spring training and
thought he had great stuff."
To make room for Garza, who will join the team for Tuesday
night's game against the Tigers, the Twins optioned right-hander
Mike Smith to Rochester. Smith gave up four earned runs in three
innings of his only start for the Twins.
The back end of the rotation has been a trouble spot for the
Twins all season, and Garza will be the latest candidate to try and
shore it up. Scott Baker, Boof Bonser, Kyle Lohse, Carlos Silva and
Smith have all been unable to provide consistency in the last two
spots of the rotation.
Garza started the year at Class A Fort Myers, going 5-1 with a
1.42 ERA and 53 strikeouts in eight starts. He was 6-2 with a 2.51
ERA and 68 strikeouts in 10 starts at Double-A New Britain before
being promoted to Rochester.