The Twins have repeatedly said that they don't expect the pitcher to be completely back to form after such a long layoff from pitching. They've noticed that his stamina isn't quite there yet, and he's working to find that consistency again on the mound.But with only two weeks remaining until Opening Day, a decision concerning Liriano's ability to pitch in the rotation is quickly approaching. So what does the team need to see from him to determine whether or not he's ready to head to Minnesota? "We just want to see him throw the ball and continue working," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "You hope to start seeing more crispness on his breaking balls and a little better command. He spins off a few balls still. But it's just about him pitching. With the surgery and his delayed arrival to camp due to visa troubles, Liriano is still behind many of the other pitchers in camp. But Gardenhire said on Monday that the decision on whether to break camp with the pitcher will be based solely on if Liriano appears ready and not on how he's done compared with other arms. "He is different than the rest of the guys," Gardenhire said. "We have to make a decision on him by what's good for him. We'll see how he does his next couple outings. He looked better today. Hopefully he'll look better the next time." The Twins seem willing to wait it out until the very end with Liriano to see if he indeed can be ready. Liriano is expected to make at least two more starts this spring. Gardenhire hinted that if necessary, the left-hander could even remain behind in Fort Myers to get a third start since he would be at the back end of the rotation. But while having a fully ready Liriano could be a boost to the Twins, Gardenhire said that there is still a chance the team could be without him to start the year. "It's going to be about where he's at by the end of Spring Training, and if it looks like he's throwing the ball over and has command of all of his pitches," Gardenhire said. "At the end, we'll make a decision. If he's not ready, he's not ready."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.