9:25 p.m. EDT: The Twins said it was actually Liriano’s recent illness that caused his departure after three innings. Liriano, who was originally supposed to pitch Monday, was pushed back until today because of a sore throat and other flu-like symptoms.
Francisco Liriano was checked on by the Twins trainer with an apparent leg issue during an intentional walk in the third inning Tuesday and didn’t come back out for the fourth against the Tigers.
Liriano, who was coming off a no-hitter against the White Sox, gave up a two-run homer to Jhonny Peralta in the second inning, snapping his streak of hitless innings. He went on to give up two more runs after the intentional walk to Miguel Cabrera in the third.
Liriano appeared to tweak the knee of his landing leg on the second pitch of the intentional walk, which ended up quite a bit higher and further off the plate than expected. After two warmup throws, he made it clear he was fine to stay in. However, given his struggles and history of arm problems, the Twins probably didn’t want to risk anything by letting him come back out for another inning. He had thrown just 29 of his 59 pitches for strikes.
Brian Duensing, who was on his throw day in between starts, came in to begin the fourth inning with the Twins down 4-0.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.
Veteran Omar Infante has spent the overwhelming majority of his career as an infielder, but the Tigers plan to give him some playing time in center field this spring. The Tigers’ center field situation is still murky and adding more versatility would increase Infante’s odds of making the roster.
Infante, 35, signed a minor league deal with the Tigers in December. He played 39 games for the Royals last season, batting .239/.279/.321 in 149 plate appearances while playing second base exclusively. Infante last played in the outfield in 2010 with the Braves, and last played center field specifically in ’09 with the Braves.
The Tigers currently have Mikie Mahtook, Tyler Collins, and JaCoby Jones at the top of their center field depth chart. It is not what one would call “optimal.”