Francisco Liriano could be bullpen bound after latest loss

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While the Twins weren’t ready to reveal their exact plans, they said after Sunday’s loss to the Rays that they’d “take a step back” with Francisco Liriano after he gave up five runs and fell to 0-3 on the season.

Liriano, who had an outstanding spring after tuning up in winter ball, is 0-3 with an 11.02 ERA after four starts. He has a 12/13 K/BB ratio in 16 1/3 innings. Liriano finished up March with a 2.33 ERA and an exceptional 33/5 K/BB ratio in 29 innings.

After two hitless innings to start the afternoon, Liriano walked two and hit a batter to begin the third. The Rays went on to score twice without the benefit of a hit. Liriano was unlucky in the fourth, as Evan Longoria was credited with a catwalk double on a ball that would have caught elsewhere. He later came around to score. Still, Liriano has mostly made his own bed this season.

If the Twins sent Liriano to the pen, it’d hopefully be a temporary measure. Anthony Swarzak could swap places with him or the team could call up Scott Diamond from Triple-A to fill the rotation spot.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.