MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins made a move with their struggling rotation Monday morning, sending shaken right-hander Carlos Silva to the bullpen temporarily and promoting lefty Francisco Liriano.
The 22-year-old Liriano is one of baseball's top prospects, and
Twins fans have been eagerly waiting for his chance to start. A
hard thrower whose slider has reached 90 mph, Liriano is 1-0 with a
3.22 ERA in 12 relief appearances and 32 strikeouts in 22 1/3
With Brad Radke, Silva and Kyle Lohse all frequently getting hit hard through the season's first six weeks, a promotion of Liriano appeared inevitable. Silva was the one to go, for now, after giving up eight runs and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings while wasting an
early 7-3 lead in a 9-7 loss Sunday to Chicago.
In eight starts, Silva is 2-6 with an 8.80 ERA and 74 hits and 15 homers allowed in 46 innings. After going 14-8 with a 4.21 ERA in 2004, his first year as a starter, Silva pitched through a torn
meniscus in his right knee and was named Minnesota's most improved
player in 2005. He went 9-8 with a 3.44 ERA in 188-plus innings,
posting a majors-best ratio -- 0.4 -- of fewest walks per nine innings.
Manager Ron Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson made the
decision before the game Monday against the White Sox.
"He's one of our starters," Gardenhire said. "He's got to be one of our starters for us to be successful. The first thing you
have to work with a pitcher is getting their confidence back up.
Right now his confidence is shot. He's a little bit lost."
Silva, 27, was an effective middle reliever for Philadelphia in
2003 and 2004, but the Twins don't see him going back to that role.
They just want to give him more chances to work on his mechanics
and his sinker with Anderson, instead of only throwing once every
five days. Silva has said he's been feeling good in the bullpen,
but that hasn't translated to the mound on the field.
"He will go back in the rotation, as soon as he finds his
confidence and starts getting his sinker going," Gardenhire said.
"That shouldn't take very long, we're hoping."
Liriano will start on Friday night at Milwaukee, and he'll be on
a strict pitch count. If Silva rediscovers his form and shows that
he's ready to return to the rotation, the team will have a
difficult decision to make. But Gardenhire wasn't worried about
that right now.
"Believe me, right now we need more good problems with our
starting staff," he said.
Silva declined comment. Liriano said he was happy with the
experience he gained in the bullpen.
"I'm very excited," he said, "because that's what I want to
do -- be a starter."