03/20/10 6:20 PM ET
Liriano to remain a starter -- for now
Gardenhire will tell southpaw first if plans for him change
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
2010 Spring Training - Major League Baseball
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Sights & Sounds
Spring Training Info
"The ball was coming out of his hand good, but coming out of the long injury there, we just shut him down," Gardenhire said.It was a continuation of the success that Liriano has had this spring, having allowed three earned runs while striking out 16 over 10 innings. But Gardenhire said that no decision has been made yet on who will be the club's fifth starter when the 2010 season opens. "It's too soon to say the least," Gardenhire said when asked if Liriano is the fifth starter. "But he's doing great. He's confident, the whole package." Liriano's success in a starting role this spring could make the club lean toward one of its other internal candidates for the closing job -- or perhaps Minnesota could look outside the organization for a solution. It's a decision the club won't make until it knows whether or not Nathan will undergo surgery -- something it could likely find out this weekend after the closer tries to play catch for the first time with the injury. But while things are up in the air, Gardenhire wants Liriano just to concentrate on being a starter and not concern himself with anything else that might happen. "We came in here saying fifth spot is open and he's one of the guys competing for it," Gardenhire said. "I think that's what he wants to do ... but if we ever decide something, he would be the first to know."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.