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Updated: February 18th, 2011 12:02pm
Francisco Liriano has shoulder soreness, not concerned with trade talk

Francisco Liriano has shoulder soreness, not concerned with trade talk

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Minnesota Twins' pitchers and catchers went through their first full workout on Friday morning with one notable exception.

The team cancelled Francisco Liriano's bullpen session after he reported with soreness in his throwing shoulder.

But the left-hander downplayed the issue, as did manager Ron Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson, who said Liriano "tried to turn it up too quick" in a series of recent bullpen sessions.

"Shoulder's been sore for the last three or four days, so I've just been working in the training room," said Liriano, who spoke to reporters with a bag of ice draped over the shoulder.

"Feels a little bit tight. Nothing big, it's just real tight."

Coming off a bounce-back performance in 2010, Liriano said he resumed throwing around Dec. 10 and felt something in the shoulder on Monday. He indicated he may not have done enough stretching and the soreness is nothing too out of the ordinary.

"We got the call (Thursday) night," Gardenhire said. "The doctors checked him out here, and whatever it is -- a little tendinitis or whatever -- they'll just back him off a little bit and then we'll go from there."

Added Anderson, "If he comes in and says, 'I feel great,' we'll play catch. I'd say if it was the latter part of spring you'd have concerns. (But) I would be very surprised if he wasn't out playing catch in the next couple days."

However minor, the shoulder issue isn't a particularly fortuitous start for a player whose long-term durability remains a concern within the organization.

Long-term contract talks between the Twins and Liriano's agent went nowhere before he agreed to a one-year, $4.3 million contract that avoided arbitration earlier this month.

Last week, baseball sources confirmed to 1500ESPN.com the Twins are open to trading Liriano for the right price, even though he's one of the top two starting pitchers on a defending division champion with a roughly $114 million payroll.

Asked if he'd seen reports about his status, Liriano said, "No, no. Friend of mine called me a couple days ago about that, but I don't pay attention to that. Whatever happens, happens. I'm just happy to be here."

Gardenhire grinned as he ribbed reporters about the trade talk, saying that "it came up by you guys. That's a shocker. It didn't come up by us. That's the thing about it, everybody's names come up in trades.

"I mean, I can tell you a thousand guys I would love to have and we can start all kinds of rumors. But that doesn't mean that we started it. There is a wishlist on every team in baseball and I'm sure there are a lot of people that would like Liriano."

Liriano dismissed the durability question -- "I think I'm kind of past that" -- but listed health among his goals for 2011.

If he avoids injury, Liriano said, he'd like to throw 220 innings. He threw a career-high 191 2/3 last season -- up from 136 2/3 innings in 2009 and 76 innings in '08. Liriano missed all of 2007 following Tommy John elbow surgery.

"I was hurt, but my arm feels great now," Liriano said. "Nothing's bothering me at all. So, I'm just trying to get my confidence back like I did last year and trying to do better this year."

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.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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