Twins' Liriano called up, will start Sunday; Hernandez, Monroe cut
MINNEAPOLIS -- Francisco Liriano finally got what he wanted. No more Triple-A hitters for him. "The Franchise" is back in Minnesota's starting rotation.
The Twins waited until a day after the trade deadline to make their big move, promoting Liriano from Rochester on Friday and cutting ties with right-hander Livan Hernandez and outfielder Craig Monroe.
The left-hander missed all of last season with Tommy John surgery and was battered in his first stint up this season in April, going 0-3 with an 11.32 ERA before being sent down.
"It's been a long time," Liriano said. "I wasn't ready when I was here so I had to go down and get myself ready."
Liriano dominated for Rochester, going 10-0 with a 2.67 ERA in his last 11 starts. Yet the Twins stuck with Hernandez and youngsters Glen Perkins, Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn and Kevin Slowey in a starting rotation that had them a half-game behind the White Sox in the AL Central heading into Friday night's game against Cleveland.
But Liriano's agent, Greg Genske, asked the players' union to investigate why his client had not been recalled to the majors.
The call finally came on Thursday night, but Liriano tried to downplay the situation on Friday.
"They were winning a lot of games without me," Liriano said. "I just kind of waited for an open spot."
Hernandez (10-8) won six of his first seven decisions with the Twins, but he went 2-3 with a 6.44 ERA and 42 hits allowed in 29 1-3 innings in July.
"I know it's not the best ERA in the league, but there's two months left in the season and I've got 10 wins," Hernandez said in a phone interview. "That's pretty good."
General manager Bill Smith tried to trade Hernandez and Monroe on Thursday, but couldn't get a deal done.
Hernandez was approaching several incentives for innings pitched in his one-year contract and said he told Smith that "he could keep the money. I don't need that. I want to continue to pitch and help the team make the playoffs."
Smith denied the decision had anything to do with money, saying it only came down "to winning baseball games."
The Twins are hoping the addition of Liriano, who went 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA and 144 strikeouts in 121 innings before arm problems cut short his rookie year, can provide them with the juice to leapfrog the White Sox.
"You're always looking for a boost in trades and all those things," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Well, if Cisco comes up here and pitches the way he's capable of, it would be a huge boost for our baseball team."
The Twins selected the contract of first baseman-designated hitter Randy Ruiz from Rochester to take Monroe's place.
Monroe hit .202 with eight home runs and 29 RBIs.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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