Twins name Francisco Liriano fifth starter

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As expected the Twins announced this afternoon that Francisco Liriano will be their fifth starter, with his first outing coming April 9 against the White Sox.
Liriano’s name was tossed into the closer mix with Joe Nathan out for the season, but he never seemed interested in a switch to the bullpen and Ron Gardenhire made it clear that he also preferred to give the 26-year-old southpaw another chance in the rotation.
Liriano was a mess last season after initially showing some promise in his 2008 return from Tommy John surgery, going 5-13 with a 5.80 ERA, but he dominated the Dominican Winter League this offseason and continued to thrive this spring while battling Brian Duensing and Glen Perkins for the fifth-starter gig.
Making his final start this afternoon Liriano tossed six shutout innings with eight strikeouts compared to three hits and three walks, slicing his overall spring ERA to 2.70 with a 30/5 K/BB ratio in 20 innings. Reviews of his raw stuff has been equally positive, so while he may never be the unhittable phenom who burst onto the scene in 2006, as elbow surgery fades further and further into his rear-view mirror it looks like Liriano may once again be an impact pitcher.

Dave Dombrowski gives John Farrell a vote of confidence

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Earlier, we learned via Tuesday’s report from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that Red Sox manager John Farrell could find himself on the hot seat given the team’s slow start and a couple of incidents with Dustin Pedroia and Drew Pomeranz.

Tim Britton of the Providence Journal spoke to Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, who gave Farrell a vote of confidence. Dombrowski said, “We all have our pluses and minuses. But when I see some of the things we’ve talked about, I don’t know how you say that’s John Farrell’s fault. It’s not his fault that we’ve scuffled to pitch in the fifth spot with [Kyle] Kendrick and [Hector] Velazquez. The injury factors. Really in many ways, I tip my hat to our guys, led by John, that we’re in the position that we’re in right now. We’re three and a half out on May 24. There’s a long time to go. We haven’t gotten buried.”

Dombrowski added, “He’s our manager. He’s done fine. If I didn’t think that, then he wouldn’t be in his role.”

Farrell is signed through 2018 as the Red Sox exercised his ’18 option in December. That doesn’t mean the Red Sox can’t let him go, but given the lack of realistic options to step in and fill Farrell’s shoes and Dombrowski’s vote of confidence, it looks like the skipper has job security for now.

Jacoby Ellsbury diagnosed with concussion, neck sprain after leaving game

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The Yankees announced that Jacoby Ellsbury left the game with a concussion and a neck sprain after making a great catch, crashing into the center field wall at Yankee Stadium to snag an Alcides Escobar fly ball for the first out of the first inning Wednesday night against the Royals.

Ellsbury was shaken up after the play, requiring the attention of manager Joe Girardi and trainer Steve Donohue.

Ellsbury initially stayed in the game and finished the top of the first inning. However, Aaron Hicks replaced Ellsbury in center field to start the top of the second inning. Ellsbury was batting sixth and did not have an at-bat prior to exiting.