Notes: Encouraging news about Liriano

Notes: Encouraging news about Liriano

ST. PETERSBURG -- Francisco Liriano's return to the Twins took a big step forward on Monday. The electric young left-hander threw 73 pitches off the mound in the bullpen, tossing an array of fastballs, changeups and sliders with ease. The next step comes on Wednesday, when he'll face live batters in a simulated game at Tropicana Field.

"I've not even gone out to watch," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He said he feels great, and he has a good smile on his face."

Liriano (12-3, 2.19 ERA) still had a small crowd as pitching coach Rick Anderson and four or five others watched the 22-year-old rookie toss. He began throwing long toss, which he did for the first time since Aug. 22. Liriano threw his first bullpen session since going on the disabled list on Aug. 10.

"Everybody says everything is going along exactly the way you want it to," Gardenhire said. "We're always guarded. We don't want any setbacks."

The team will make a decision on Liriano's future, provided everything goes well on Wednesday, once he returns home.

Radke appearance: Pitcher Brad Radke, a Tampa native, joined the team in St. Petersburg after learning on Friday that he had a stress fracture in his pitching shoulder.

"He's not glad he has a fractured shoulder, but he's happy to find out something," Gardenhire said. "He just didn't know. He knew he was hurting, but he didn't know why."

Radke had been scheduled to pitch on Saturday, but he still had lingering pain after two cortisone shots in two months. A second MRI revealed the unique injury, which is a stress fracture of the glenoid bone.

"I'm not going to touch a ball for a couple of weeks, and hope it heals," Radke said.

Radke said he hopes to be healthy enough to make one or two starts before the end of the season, but the 11-year veteran may have thrown his last pitch if he can't recover by then.

"I don't think there will be a next spring," Radke said.

Rabe returns: The team recalled outfielder Josh Rabe from Triple-A Rochester, where he batted .299 in 93 games for the Red Wings. The 27-year-old outfielder made his Major League debut in July, batting .311 in 19 games.

His return gives the team more flexibility and the ability to spell players for some much-needed rest, especially in September, when the Twins have just one scheduled off-day.

"The grind will wear you out," Gardenhire said. "That's why we bring all these guys up here."

Gardenhire was a man of his word on Monday, allowing Justin Morneau the chance to DH, while the newly acquired Phil Nevin played first.

Castillo a go: Second baseman Luis Castillo was back at the top of the lineup on Monday after missing four straight games with soreness in his right ankle. The 30-year-old Castillo had hit in nine out of 10 games before suffering the mild ankle sprain.

Coming up: The Twins and ace Johan Santana (16-5, 2.95 ERA) will face the Devil Rays at 6:15 p.m. CT on Tuesday in the second game of a three-game set. Tampa Bay will send right-hander Jae Seo (3-9, 5.13).

Anthony Gagliano is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.