Liriano dedicated to Twins' season

Updated: February 17, 2009, 6:18 PM ET
Associated Press

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Francisco Liriano knows how he wants to spend his spring: with the Minnesota Twins.

Liriano insisted Tuesday that he will not play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic in March to focus on the upcoming season.

"I'm going to stay here," he said. "I just want to do the right thing."

Liriano said he hadn't told his Dominican teammates of his decision.

"They might understand, because of my position here," Liriano said. "I'm going to be the second starter, No. 3, whatever -- they know this is my career."

Last season, the young lefty got off to a rocky start while recovering from Tommy John surgery in his pitching elbow. He was in Triple-A from mid-April to the beginning of August, then came back and went 6-1 with a 2.74 ERA.

"I want to stay healthy for the whole year," Liriano said Tuesday. "Whatever else happens, happens."

Liriano put up Cy Young Award-like numbers in 2006, going 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA, striking out 144 and walking 32 batters in 121 innings. He was put on the disabled list in August of that year when his elbow problem worsened, and then had major surgery that November.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson said they did not pressure Liriano either way on the WBC.

"Any time you have your pitchers day in and day out, that's a good thing," Anderson said. "Then again, I know how important it is for players to represent their country."

Unlike last season, when Liriano arrived 10 days late because of a visa issue and then had to redevelop and refine his mechanics following the surgery, he has no such limitations this season, Anderson said.

"Last year, we were kind of just looking to see where he was at," Anderson said.

Gardenhire said the team has been cautious with Liriano for two years.

"Now he's right with everyone else," Gardenhire said.

Liriano reported Tuesday, a day after other pitchers and catchers, because his flight from the Dominican Republican was canceled.

Notes

Boof Bonser, a former starter who has transitioned to reliever, has been shut down because of inflammation in his right, throwing shoulder. The Twins canceled Bonser's scheduled throwing session for Wednesday. "He's day to day right now," Gardenhire said. ... Former Twins third baseman Corey Koskie has been working out at the complex on one of the back fields, hoping to make Team Canada and play in the WBC. Koskie has not played in the majors since 2006 because of a severe concussion. "He's floating around," Gardenhire said. "He's working out. He's not with our organization, but he's down here. This is a complex he knows. He's been here."


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press