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.

Michael Fulmer underwent surgery on his right knee

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MLB.com’s Jason Beck reports that Tigers starter Michael Fulmer underwent successful surgery to repair the meniscus in his right knee. The Tigers expect Fulmer to be ready for spring training next year.

Fulmer, 25, threw just five pitches in his start against the Indians on Friday before being removed with what at the time was called right knee inflammation. The right-hander ends 2018 with a 3-12 record, a 4.69 ERA, and a 110/46 K/BB ratio in 132 1/3 innings.

Fulmer will enter his first of four years of arbitration eligibility after the season. The Tigers likely would have considered trading him during the offseason but his poor season and knee woes will keep him in Detroit for the time being.