Spring Training Quick Hits: March 21

Here is our latest edition of Spring Training Quick Hits.

Left-hander Francisco Liriano returned to camp Monday following an exhilarating experience in the World Baseball Classic with the Dominican Republic team, and he got down to the business of competing with right-hander Scott Baker in an all-rookie battle for the fifth starter job. "I don't feel any pressure," he said of the job battle he faces with less than two weeks before the team breaks camp. "I'll just go out there and try to do my best."

Despite the fact Baker has been in camp from the start and done well, general manager Terry Ryan said Liriano still has time to compete for the job. That makes Wednesday's first look by the staff an important one.

"To make too much of one start I think would be unfair," Ryan said. "But it will be a good day to start getting him into the mix and see exactly how this thing sorts itself out."


  • OF Ruben Sierra, the veteran switch hitter the Twins were relying on to provide a key left-handed bat off the bench, probably will open the season on the disabled list. Sierra, who injured his right quadriceps reaching to field a routine single Sunday, was diagnosed with a pulled muscle following an exam by the team physician Monday. "He'll be down for a while," said general manager Terry Ryan, who would not give an estimate on how long Sierra might be out. The season opens April 4. Even a minor quad or hamstring pull typically requires at least two weeks of recovery time.

  • RHP Brad Radke, who's scheduled to start the second game of the season April 5 at Toronto, pitched four dominant innings against Class A players Monday on the Twins' off day. Radke gave up three hits and struck out seven, walking none. He's next scheduled to pitch Sunday against Tampa Bay.

  • INF Juan Castro's MRI results were negative Monday morning, and the utility player said his sore right wrist has gotten better over the past two days. He said he felt sure he'll be ready when the season opens.

  • LHP Johan Santana made his first start of the spring since returning from the World Baseball Classic, with mixed results. Santana looked strong early, but he appeared to tire in the fourth inning, going just 3 2/3 innings and giving up four earned runs on six hits -- three runs in the fourth -- while striking out seven and walking none.

  • RHP Boof Bonser, the former first-round draft pick of the Giants acquired in the trade for C A.J. Pierzynski in November 2003, was among three players optioned out of big-league camp to Triple-A on Monday. Bonser, who got an extended look in camp with several pitchers gone to the World Baseball Classic, was 1-1 with a 9.00 ERA in four games, including three starts, pitching eight innings. He struck out four, walked three and gave up 15 hits, including three home runs. C Chris Heintz and 1B Garrett Jones also were optioned out, leaving 40 players in camp, including 14 pitchers.

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