After a brief, unsuccessful stint in the bullpen, lefthander Francisco Liriano returns to more comfortable surroundings on Saturday afternoon (12:10 p.m., Channel 9, 670-AM). Starting, and at Target Field, his former home with the Minnesota Twins.
“It’s kind of a weird situation,” Liriano said. “But I’m excited they gave me another shot to do my job. I’m really excited about starting.”
Liriano has been an off-again, on-again piece to the Sox rotation. Gavin Floyd returned from the disabled list to bump him off his turn Wednesday to Friday. When Thursday’s game against the Tigers was rained out, Chris Sale went from Thursday to Friday, bumping Liriano. When manager Robin Ventura and pitching coach Don Cooper reviewed their options on the team charter from Chicago to Minneapolis Thursday night, they leaned toward starting Liriano Saturday and moving Jose Quintana ahead to face the Tigers instead of Floyd.
That gives Quintana two extra days rest and Floyd one. And it gives Liriano another shot to bring his plus stuff under control. That’s been his bugaboo — command.
“I haven’t pitched the way I’d like to here,” said Liriano, who came from the Twins in a trade for infielder Eduardo Escobar and lefty Pedro Hernandez. “They brought me here to help them win some ballgames. My first couple games were OK but I haven’t gone deep enough in games. Walking too many guys, getting behind in counts too much.”
Liriano (5-11, 5.37) had a no-decision in his last start on Sept. 7 against the Royals when he allowed five runs in five innings. In his first Sox start, which was against the on July 31, he allowed two runs on four hits and struck out eight over six innigs.
In recent side sessions with Cooper, Liriano worked on getting his release point more out in front. He senses improvement.
“I’m pretty close,” he said.