Twins choose Carl Pavano, not Francisco Liriano, as Opening Day starter

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Ron Gardenhire announced this afternoon that Carl Pavano will be Minnesota’s starter on Opening Day, which is noteworthy because the Twins chose Francisco Liriano over Pavano to start Game 1 of the ALDS against the Yankees just four months ago.

Perhaps picking Pavano for Opening Day has everything to do with his veteran-ness or maybe the Twins went with Liriano in Game 1 of the playoffs mostly because they felt he matched up better specifically against the Yankees, but whatever the case today’s announcement only adds to the recent speculation about the team souring on Liriano.

Last week Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that the Twins weren’t interested in signing Liriano to a long-term contract extension despite his being eligible for free agency after 2012 and are opening to trading the 27-year-old left-hander who had a 3.62 ERA and 201 strikeouts in 192 innings last year.

Earlier this week, after Liriano had to push back his first throwing session of spring training due to some minor shoulder soreness, pitching coach Rick Anderson told LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune that Liriano’s lack of offseason training led to the soreness.

Taken individually the reports, speculation, public criticisms, and passing him over for the Opening Day start may not seem like much, but together they certainly paint the picture of a team frustrated with their young ace or perhaps not even looking deep enough at his performance to realize that he’s actually their ace. Ultimately everyone in the rotation is going to start 32-34 times as long as they stay healthy, so the Opening Day assignment isn’t especially meaningful, but in this case it definitely adds more fuel to the Liriano fire.

Cardinals place Carlos Martinez on 10-day disabled list with oblique strain

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The Cardinals have placed right-hander Carlos Martinez on the 10-day disabled list with a right oblique strain, per a team announcement on Saturday. The move is retroactive to July 20. No definite timetable has been set for his return to the rotation yet, but interim manager Mike Shildt told reporters he feels confident that Martinez will only need to skip one start before taking the mound again.

Martinez, 26, sustained the injury while trying to snare a line drive during Thursday’s 9-6 loss to the Cubs. It hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing for the righty this season, as he lost nearly four weeks to a right lat strain and pitched to a 5.32 ERA after returning to the Cardinals’ roster in early June. Overall, however, his numbers look a little stronger: He’s 6-6 in 17 starts with a 3.39 ERA, 4.5 BB/9 and 8.4 SO/9 through 95 2/3 innings.

In a corresponding move, right-handed reliever John Brebbia has been recalled from Triple-A Memphis. The 28-year-old Brebbia has already enjoyed three short-lived stints in the majors this season; he currently holds a cumulative 4.13 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 9.9 SO/9 and two saves in 32 2/3 innings with the club.