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Updated: March 9th, 2011 1:01pm
Orioles rock Francisco Liriano for six runs in official spring debut

Orioles rock Francisco Liriano for six runs in official spring debut

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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SARASOTA, Fla. -- Francisco Liriano's rough spring didn't get any better on Wednesday.

The Minnesota Twins left-hander allowed six runs (five earned) on five hits, walked three and struck out one before departing after 1 2/3 innings in his official spring debut against the Baltimore Orioles.

"I was up and away, just rushing things, trying to do too much," Liriano said. "I know it's too early in spring training, but I feel like I'm trying too hard."

Roughly three weeks after reporting to Fort Myers with a sore throwing shoulder, Liriano threw 47 pitches -- only 25 strikes -- and repeatedly missed high, much as he had in a "B" game performance last Friday. His fastball topped out at 94 mph on the radar gun at Ed Smith Stadium, but his command was off from the start.

"Nothing was working (Wednesday)," Liriano said. "My ball wasn't moving."

He walked leadoff hitter J.J. Hardy on five pitches. Adam Jones ripped a one-out single, Vladimir Guerrero laid off several high fastballs to draw another walk and then Mark Reynolds laced a 1-2 fastball to the left-center field gap for a two-run double. Another run scored on Luke Scott's groundout, and Nolan Reimold ripped an RBI single.

In the second, Nick Green's leadoff single was erased on a double play. But then Nick Markakis drew a five-pitch walk, Jones blasted an RBI double to left-center and Guerrero hit a flare to center field that Denard Span couldn't run down. It was ruled an error, and Liriano was gone.

"He was flying all over the place. I think we all saw that," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He needs to slow down. Even in that second inning, he got two quick outs and then all of a sudden, his next two pitches were flying completely with his back to home plate, and all of a sudden, there he goes again and he tries to jump and throw the ball and it's just not going.

"He throws really good in the bullpen, because he's under control. He gets in the game and he tries to throw it 95. He's just got to back off, just let it move and locate the ball. When he does that, he's really good. He just hasn't had that much time out there. So, just give him more time here -- he normally comes along pretty good.

According to Liriano, pitching coach Rick Anderson told him to stop trying to impress people, stay back and hit his stride.

"I feel like I'm going to be OK for April," Liriano said. "Right now, just trying to get my mechanics better, my release point and just got to keep practicing in the bullpen."

The shoulder is no longer an issue, Liriano said, but he admitted he feels "a little bit behind." At the time, Gardenhire chalked the shoulder soreness to a possible lack of conditioning, and Liriano remains a start behind the other members of the rotation.

"I feel like I have to start all over again," Liriano added. "Just trying to find a rhythm."

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
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