Notes: Twins ad-libbing with Liriano

Notes: Twins ad-libbing with Liriano

MINNEAPOLIS -- It's not often that an organization has a rooting interest for one of its Minor League clubs to lose a game in a playoff series, but the Twins did on Friday night.

While the Twins wouldn't exactly root for Triple-A Rochester to lose its postseason contest, the Red Wings' 6-3 loss to Scranton sure made things a lot easier when it came to the pitching schedule of Francisco Liriano.

The left-hander arrived in Scranton, Pa., on Friday morning to join Rochester, but taking the trip was a bit of a risk at the time, as there was still a question of whether he would even have a start after the Red Wings won Game 2 of their series with Scranton, 11-5, on Thursday night to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.

There was another possible option, had the start at Rochester fallen through. Plan B then reverted to a possible start for Class A Beloit in a game on Saturday, but that also depended on whether the Snappers won that game -- which they did.

Exactly how the club would have handled the situation if neither start had materialized will remain a mystery. Twins general manager Terry Ryan didn't want to speculate before the games about what the club would do in that case, saying only that he would have some difficult decisions to make.

One interesting scenario that emerged on Friday was the possibility of Liriano pitching out of the bullpen for the Twins on Saturday night.

Liriano told reporters covering the playoffs in Scranton that he was informed by Ryan that he would be pitching out of the bullpen for the Twins if neither of the rehab assignments came to fruition. It seemed like a last resort for the club.

But all of that isn't a concern now for the club, as Liriano will start Game 4 of Rochester's series with Scranton. The plan is for Liriano to throw up to 50 pitches, and this will give him a chance to face hitters in a big-game situation.

"What you'd like to see is how he'd handle himself in that situation," Gardenhire said of Liriano starting an actual game.

Now the club will get that chance.

Help against the lefties: The acquisition of Phil Nevin was regarded as a move by the Twins to try to add another strong bat to their designated hitter slot.

But so far, Nevin has just one hit in 10 at-bats and has played in just three of seven games since he was acquired from the Cubs on Aug. 31.

Nevin was back in the lineup on Friday to face Tigers left-hander Wilfredo Ledezma. The Twins had been using Jason Tyner in the DH role recently, as Rondell White has been swinging the bat well when starting in left field. But it appears that Nevin will get more chances when the Twins face left-handers.

"We're going to see if he can find a stroke and put some swings on the ball," Gardenhire said. "He came over here as a role guy to help us out. We've been struggling against left-handed pitching, so we'll see what he can do."

For Nevin, the opportunity to get into the lineup more is one that he welcomes, especially considering that he feels he hasn't had a chance to show what he can do.

"These guys are in the position they're in because they've had contributions from everybody," Nevin said. "However I can help out, I will. I don't think 10 at-bats is a good indication of what I can do. I had a bad day at Tampa, so right now with just 10 at-bats, it doesn't look good."

Let the healing begin: Brad Radke still doesn't know whether he will be able to return to the Twins this season, but there has been a bit of good news regarding his progress.

Since learning of the fracture in his right shoulder socket and being forced to rest his arm, Radke has noticed a significant difference in the amount of pain he's had recently.

"I honestly feel a lot better," Radke said. "I'm able to do things with the arm again without so much pain."

Radke is continuing to do exercises to keep up his strength and said that he hopes to be able to play catch sometime during the team's next road trip, which starts on Thursday, Sept. 14.

Twins tidbits: The Twins announced their ticket prices for the 2007 season on Friday. Single-game tickets will range from $7 in the cheap seats to $44 in the Lower Deck Club. The club will offer 81-game, 41-game and 20-game plans, as well as the Flex 40 ticket package. As a season ticket holder, fans will also get priority in securing seats when the new ballpark opens in 2010. ... Shortstop Carlos Guillen returned to the lineup for the Tigers on Friday night. Guillen had been dealing with a sore hamstring and had not expected to play the field at all during the series. ... With Michael Cuddyer's 21st home run of the season on Thursday night, the Twins have three players on the season to reach that mark (Justin Morneau, 33, and Torii Hunter, 23). It's the first time that has happened for the Twins since 1988.

Down on the farm: Quinton McCracken went 4-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored to lead the offensive charge in Rochester's 11-5 win on Thursday over Scranton. ... Class A Fort Myers saw its season come to an end on Thursday with a 3-2 loss to Dunedin in the best of three series. Starter Anthony Swarzak allowed just one run on five hits over seven innings. ... Class A Beloit's first-round series with Peoria was tied at one game apiece after a 6-1 loss by the Snappers on Thursday.

Coming up: The Twins will host the Tigers for Game 3 of their series on Saturday night in a 6:10 p.m. CT start. Right-hander Boof Bonser (4-5, 4.83) will attempt to deliver his second quality start in a row for the Twins as he faces Tigers left-hander Nate Robertson (12-11, 3.93).

Kelly Thesieris a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.