MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins' starting rotation was already considered to be short on depth before Francisco Liriano was scratched from his start on Wednesday due to left forearm inflammation. But the hope of the Twins is that Liriano's injury is nothing serious, as an MRI on his forearm showed no structural damage and the pitcher is expected to miss just this one start. Liriano arrived at the ballpark on Tuesday with some swelling in his forearm that was down toward his wrist. Team doctors examined Liriano and had him undergo an MRI that just showed some fluid in the area that's swollen.
But the bigger concern for manager Ron Gardenhire was the soreness the pitcher has been experiencing in another part of his forearm -- up toward his elbow -- and that's a big reason why he decided to have Liriano skip the start. "The doctors said he could pitch," Gardenhire said." They weren't concerned if he were to start tonight. For me, it's a little different. A little swelling, a little soreness, I don't like that. I see no reason to push that." With Liriano scratched, left-hander Brian Duensing was given the spot start out of the bullpen for the Twins. Gardenhire said that both Duensing and knuckleballer R.A. Dickey were options, but the club felt that Duensing was the best fit for the start. "He's the one that's been stretched out in the Minor Leagues," Gardenhire said. Although the Twins were only informed about the swelling on Tuesday, Liriano said that his arm first appeared swollen a couple of days ago. But since the swelling wasn't bothering him while throwing, he didn't tell anybody about it until Tuesday when he noticed it had gotten worse. With no soreness in the swollen area, Liriano said he wasn't nervous about it being a potentially bigger problem. Nor is he worried about the soreness he's been experiencing near his elbow since it's in an area that's all muscle, Liriano said. "I don't mind pitching because it doesn't hurt at all," Liriano said. "I'm OK. Nothing hurts. But [missing] one start doesn't hurt at all [either]. They just want to make sure everything is fine." While they decided not to have Liriano pitch on Wednesday, the Twins currently expect him to take his next turn in the rotation. Liriano will take a few days off throwing before tossing a bullpen session sometime this weekend. And Gardenhire said that if everything goes well in Liriano's bullpen, he'll start next Wednesday at Cleveland. But if there is any recurrence of the problem, Gardenhire admitted that the club faces a little bit of a dilemma in terms of who they turn to for starting pitching depth. Having already lost starter Kevin Slowey to season-ending wrist surgery that has kept Anthony Swarzak permanently in the rotation, the Twins don't have many other options to insert into a starting role if needed. "We've been thin and we're getting thin," Gardenhire said. "The depth is the problem. You can get away with [injuries] if you have a lot of it, but we've brought everybody up here already. There is the problem that lies ... Frankie with the minor setback, missing one start, we can probably get away with it but if it's longer than that, we've got issues." So does that mean starting pitching now moves to the top of the Twins' list of needs as the July 31 Trade Deadline approaches? "They are trying to do things up there," said Gardenhire, who reiterated he doesn't get involved in trade decisions. "They have an eye on what's going on with us and you know what? You talk about it. Starting is a little thinner now and if we can find somebody to come in...then we'll go get it. If we can get some depth, that would be wonderful. But that's not up to me. I just have to figure out what we have."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.