Twins pitching coach blames Francisco Liriano’s shoulder soreness on lack of conditioning

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Francisco Liriano was scratched from his first scheduled throwing session of the spring last week because of shoulder soreness, but an MRI exam gave him a clean bill of health and he’s expected to take the mound later this week.

However, in the meantime Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson revealed to LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune that Liriano did not engage in his team-recommended workouts during the offseason. Neal writes that “Liriano’s shoulder problems stem from him not keeping up with strengthening exercises” and he didn’t start throwing until “the weeks leading to the start of camp.”

Anderson explained that “now his shoulder is strong” because “he’s been doing [the exercises] here,” but clearly the Twins aren’t happy with Liriano’s lack of offseason effort. His work ethic has been questioned previously by the Twins and the situation is particularly noteworthy now because last week Neal’s colleague Joe Christensen reported that the team isn’t interested in signing Liriano to a long-term contract and may look into trading him.

Pitch clock cut minor league games by 25 minutes to 2:38

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NEW YORK — Use of pitch clocks cut the average time of minor league games by 25 minutes this year, a reduction Major League Baseball hopes is replicated when the devices are installed in the big leagues next season.

The average time of minor league games dropped to 2 hours, 38 minutes in the season that ended Wednesday, according to the commissioner’s office. That was down from 3:03 during the 2021 season.

Clocks at Triple-A were set at 14 seconds with no runners on base and 19 with runners. At lower levels, the clocks were at 18 seconds with runners.

Big league nine-inning games are averaging 3:04 this season.

MLB announced on Sept. 9 that clocks will be introduced in the major leagues next year at 15 seconds with no runners and 20 seconds with runners, a decision opposed by the players’ association.

Pitchers are penalized a ball for violating the clock. In the minors, violations decreased from an average of 1.73 per game in the second week to 0.41 in week 24.

There will be a limit of two pickoff attempts or stepoffs per plate appearance, a rule that also was part of the minor league experiment this season. A third pickoff throw that is not successful would result in a balk.

Stolen bases increased to an average of 2.81 per game from 2.23 in the minors this year and the success rate rose to 78% from 68%.

Many offensive measurements were relatively stable: runs per team per game increased to 5.13 from 5.11 and batting average to .249 from .247.

Plate appearances resulting in home runs dropped to 2.7% from 2.8%, strikeouts declined to 24.4% from 25.4% and walks rose to 10.5% from 10.2%. Hit batters remained at 1.6%.