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Liriano fans eight in Minors start

Liriano fans eight in Minors start

MINNEAPOLIS -- The pitching line from Francisco Liriano's first Minor League start on Thursday was not exactly what the Twins had hoped to see.

But Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Friday that the overall reports on the pitcher were favorable.

Liriano, who is coming off Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery in November 2006, pitched 5 1/3 innings for Class A Fort Myers and gave up six hits and four earned runs. He walked two and struck out eight as he threw a total of 82 pitches.

Former Twins general manager Terry Ryan was on hand to watch the start and gave Gardenhire a detailed breakdown of Liriano's outing.

"Terry said basically that he got it done," Gardenhire said. "It wasn't the most beautiful thing. But his fastball was 91-93 mph. His slider had some good tilt in it at times. He threw a lot of changeups and was working on it. So he got through it."

After his start, Liriano headed to Miami to be with his wife, Johanna, who is pregnant and is scheduled to have her labor induced on Friday. Gardenhire said that the indications were that Liriano was understandably distracted by that situation.

"Hopefully, his next outing we'll get rocking again," Gardenhire said. "But he got his work in, and he's healthy. That's the good news."

The plan is to have Liriano make a start for Triple-A Rochester on Tuesday in Norfolk, Va. The Twins will determine after that start whether he's ready to return to the Majors.

Although the Twins have said that Kevin Slowey's injury situation will not impact their plans for Liriano, the left-hander is on the exact same schedule as Slowey. The team has already skipped Slowey's turn in the rotation with Tuesday's off-day. Should the team need to skip Slowey's start a second time due to his strained right biceps muscle, Liriano would be in line to start that day as well.

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

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