07/29/12 7:00 PM ET
Familiarity with Liriano may ease transition
Lefty to start Tuesday against Twins; more deals possible
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
That has been White Sox general manager Ken Williams' mantra throughout each and every season at the helm but especially around the the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, when he's trying to provide his team an extra push toward the postseason. That particular philosophy yielded left-handed pitcher Francisco Liriano from the Twins late Saturday night.
There was no secret that Williams, assistant general manager Rick Hahn and their staff did all they could to pry loose Zack Greinke from the Brewers. But during a Sunday afternoon conference call, Williams seemed extremely satisfied with the Liriano acquisition.
"He has thrown some games against us that have been lights-out outstanding," said Williams. "Last time out for him wasn't so great, but we saw some things that we believe can immediately show him better results.
"We've had the displeasure of facing him when he's been on his game. He has some of the best stuff in the league and has had that for quite some time. All we are asking for him to do is throw strikes, and throw his best pitches over the plate."
Liriano's White Sox tenure officially begins on Tuesday with a start against his former team at Target Field. Liriano is looking forward to facing the Twins, but didn't really expect that start to come for the White Sox.
"It was a big surprise," said Liriano of getting traded within the division. "I knew something like that was going to happen but not to the White Sox. It is what it is. They are a good team and in first place and they believe in me. I'm excited to help them win some ballgames."
Rookie Jose Quintana gets Monday's start and Jake Peavy completes the road trip Wednesday afternoon in Minnesota. First-year starter Chris Sale receives a third in-season extended break to battle minor arm fatigue and keep his innings total in check, figuring to return to the mound this weekend against the Angels after starting Friday night against the Rangers.
Liriano brings with him a 5.31 ERA over 100 innings pitched, including a stint lasting just 2 2/3 innings last Monday against the White Sox. The southpaw allowed seven earned runs on seven hits and three homers. The phrase "change of scenery" seemed to be invoked frequently when current White Sox players who are familiar with Liriano talked about the benefits of his move to Chicago.
"He's a smart guy. It's not like he's a guy who just goes out and throws," said Jesse Crain, who was teammates with Liriano on the Twins from 2005-10. "Sometimes you think too much and it kind of gets you in trouble. I think he's going to fit in well and be real comfortable here. It's probably something he's been looking at for a while."
"I'm sure the Twins have told him this over the years, but if he just throws it over the plate, he's as good as anyone," said White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who was traded to the Giants from the Twins for a talent package that included Liriano. "That's something I'm sure [pitching coach Don Cooper] and [manager] Robin [Ventura] will discuss with him. Just try to beat it into his head, 'Hey throw it over the plate.' Maybe there's something Coop or someone else will say that will click for him. Sometimes a change of scenery isn't so bad."
Cooper said the major goal for Liriano is to have him throw quality pitches and help the White Sox win. The free-agent-to-be after the 2012 campaign figures to have less pressure placed upon his shoulders with the White Sox already having a very talented rotation and overall team in place.
The White Sox have added third baseman Kevin Youkilis, reliever Brett Myers and Liriano via trade since June 24, enhancing the playoff possibilities for the surprise leader of the American League Central. Saturday's move doesn't figure to be the last one for the White Sox before Tuesday's 3 p.m. CT Deadline.
When asked if more deals were possible, Williams simply answered, "Yes." Any other move apparently would address the White Sox bench at this point.
"We've solidified ourselves in terms of talent and experience," Williams said. "We've also maintained the consistent message that we think we are a competitive team and also building for the future."
"Hopefully, [Liriano] will buy into what we are doing over here and get back to what we know he's capable of doing," added White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn. "It's a great acquisition for us. When he's right, he can be one of the most dominant lefties in the game."