"If we didn't see any improvement over the last time, then yes, we probably would have made a decision that we
would need more time with him," Gardenhire said. "But he's given us an opportunity here to say, 'Let's see him
It appeared early on in Liriano's outing that he may not get such a chance. In the first inning, the lefty
still looked apprehensive to let go of all of his pitches -- something the Twins clearly did not want to see.
But Liriano came out in the second inning and started showing signs of progress, Gardenhire said. That
continued throughout the rest of his start. Liriano threw just 12 pitches in a quick 1-2-3 fourth inning, and
his velocity also increased. His fastball topped out around 93-94 mph on Sunday -- an improvement from his
"[Sunday] was exciting, we saw a glimpse of what we hoped to see," Gardenhire said. "We started to see some
balls snap, the fastball jumped a little and guys were making some ugly swings. That's what we are hoping we
get to by the end here -- whether we keep him [on the big league roster] or not."
Liriano's progress this spring has been slow at best. It's not something that was unexpected for the Twins
considering that he was just 15 months removed from such an invasive surgery like Tommy John ligament
replacement on his left elbow.
The pitcher was also hampered by a late arrival at camp due to visa troubles. The club lost nine workout days
with the pitcher, and Gardenhire said it's been a case of "trying to play catchup without forcing the issue."
But perhaps the biggest hurdle Liriano, 24, has yet to clear is proving to the Twins he's willing to be more
forthright with them. On Saturday, Gardenhire expressed his concern about that issue, recalling incidents in
the past in which the communication between the two sides was what he called "out of whack." That included
Liriano not being honest with the team about the pain he was having in his elbow prior to undergoing the
surgery and leaving Instructional League in October early without telling anyone.
Following his start on Sunday, Liriano acknowledged he needs to work on his communication with the club.
"That's what I'm doing now, trying to be honest with them and do whatever they want me to do," Liriano said.
"We'll be better this year. If something is bothering me I will tell them."
Twins general manager Bill Smith said Sunday that he doesn't believe the two sides have a communication issue.
"I think a challenge for every organization with young players is to build trust and confidence," Smith said.
"We have to gain their confidence and they have to gain ours."
Liriano is scheduled to make his final start of the spring Friday in Fort Myers against the Pirates.
The left-hander said he's yet to have a discussion with Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson regarding
their plans for him once the season starts. He knows a spot in the club's rotation is not guaranteed, and he
said he's already considered the alternative of having to begin the year in the Minors.
"It would be another step for me," Liriano said. "If I have to start in the Minor Leagues, I just don't want
to go to Triple-A [Rochester]. It'd be too cold down there. I'd rather start here in [Class A] Fort Myers.
"I've already thought about it because they might think that I'm not ready to start the season, but I think
I'm ready to go."
Liriano believes that he's ready and he'll get a chance to show that Friday. But the reality is that
Gardenhire still needs more convincing.
"If he progresses and it looks fine, that's fine, but [Anderson] and I are both leery of what's going on,"
Gardenhire said. "We want to do the right things with this young man."