Francisco Liriano shuts down Red Sox

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After dominating in both winter ball and spring training to get Twins fans optimistic again following a disastrous 2009 season Francisco Liriano kept rolling this afternoon versus the Red Sox, tossing seven shutout innings against a David Ortiz-less lineup.
Liriano struck out eight and induced nine ground-ball outs while allowing just four hits and two walks, needing just 96 pitches to record 21 outs. His fastball command remains spotty at times, but he has more velocity than last season and continues to get tons of swinging strikes with his slider and changeup.
Tommy John elbow surgery cost everyone a chance to see just how special Liriano could be after emerging as the most overpowering pitcher in baseball in 2006, but right now he looks a lot more like that guy than the one who went 5-13 with a 5.80 ERA last season. If he keeps pitching like he did this afternoon, the Twins are going to be very hard to keep pace with in the AL Central.

Dodgers sign OF Jason Heyward to minor league deal

Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
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LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Dodgers signed outfielder Jason Heyward to a minor league deal and invited him to spring training.

The 33-year-old was released by the Chicago Cubs earlier this offseason.

Heyward, who was injured at times last season, put up the worst offensive numbers of his career, batting .204 and with 10 RBIs and one home run in 137 plate appearances. However, he’s a valuable defender in the outfield.

The deal reunites Heyward with first baseman Freddie Freeman. They came up through the Atlanta Braves system and have remained friends ever since.

Heyward was a leader in the Cubs’ clubhouse, helping them win the 2016 World Series.