Notebook: Teams scouting Francisco Liriano; Carl Pavano not close
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MINNEAPOLIS -- If nothing else, Francisco Liriano's recent resurgence appears to have teams curious as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline looms.
The Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals were among teams in attendance at Target Field scouting the Minnesota Twins in Monday night's win over the White Sox -- a win in which Liriano allowed only one run in seven innings, marking his longest outing since Aug. 20 of last season.
Atlanta, which entered Tuesday 3.5 games behind Washington in the National League East, was said to be paying close attention to Liriano, and it's presumed the Nationals were paying close attention to Denard Span and possibly others.
The Twins and Nationals discussed a possible Span trade prior to last year's deadline, and the Braves are among several teams potentially looking to add pitching.
Span entered Tuesday hitting .278/.343/.389 with three home runs, 19 doubles and seven stolen bases. He is under contract for $3 million this year, $4.75 million in 2013 and $6.5 million in 2014, plus a $9 million team option for 2015.
Liriano is being paid $5.5 million this year and will become a free agent in the fall. Since returning to the starting rotation on May 30, Liriano owns a 2.41 ERA with 40 strikeouts in 37 1/3 innings.
"He showed damage control," general manager Terry Ryan said about Liriano's outing on Monday. "All you had to do is watch that first inning and say, 'Man, this stuff looks pretty crisp right now.' ...
"I got excited watching that first inning yesterday, I can tell you that."
Pavano not close
Carl Pavano has been sidelined since June 1 with shoulder discomfort, and it doesn't appear he is close to a return.
Pavano continues to go through daily strengthening and flexibility exercises, but he still hasn't thrown off a mound. The 36-year-old right-hander has graduated to long-toss, but as GM Ryan said Tuesday, "that puts him a little ways away from taking the mound competitively."
"I don't have a timetable for you," Ryan added. "I don't think anybody can give you a timetable right now on him."
The hope when Pavano landed on the disabled list was for him to return sometime in July.
"I've always said it's going to be in July," Ryan said. "I'm hoping it's more in the middle of July than late July."
In 63 innings this season, Pavano owns a 6.00 ERA with 33 strikeouts, eight walks, nine home runs allowed and 80 hits. And perhaps most uncharacteristically for Pavano was his inability to go deep into games. Only twice in 11 starts did Pavano finish seven innings -- a task he completed 19 times last season.
Pavano admitted earlier this year he has been pitching through shoulder discomfort since spring training, but he attempted to grind through it during April and May. But his average fastball in those 11 starts clocked in at just over 86 mph, which is 3 mph lower than where his velocity sat in 2011.
"That's one of the reasons why we're going through this process," Ryan said. "Once he regains strength and the flexibility and so-forth, maybe his fastball will get back up to where he wants it."
It will take time to build Duensing's pitch count
After allowing four earned runs in three innings to the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday, left-hander Brian Duensing is scheduled to take the mound again on Friday at home against the Kansas City Royals.
Saturday marked Duensing's first start of the season. He threw 63 pitches in those three innings and allowed four earned runs on four hits and two walks. Prior to that Duensing had thrown no more than 28 pitches in any of his June relief outings.
Duensing said Monday that hit a wall once he got up around 50 pitches. It's likely he'll be stretched out to 70+ on Friday, which means right-hander Anthony Swarzak could be used in reserve once again.
• Right-hander P.J. Walters, on the disabled list with shoulder soreness, threw a bullpen on Tuesday and will throw another one on Thursday. If all goes well there's a good chance he'll start Sunday for Triple-A Rochester.
• The Twins will call up a starter from Triple-A Rochester for Saturday's doubleheader against the Kansas City Royals. That starter is likely to be Cole De Vries, who held Charlotte to two earned runs on six hits in eight innings on Monday night. He struck out four, walked two and lowered his Triple-A ERA to 4.37 with the effort.
• Justin Morneau has spent extra time over the past couple days hitting off a tee before batting practice, trying to "drive through the ball... finishing through the ball and back-spinning it, rather than hooking over the top of it," Gardenhire said. Morneau is hitting just .205/.283/.289 with one home run since May 29.