Thursday’s postgame tidbits — Liriano, Mauer, Portes

The Twins saw something from Francisco Liriano on Thursday night that they had been hoping to see this spring — confidence.

In his second outing of the spring, Liriano faced the Orioles for two innings in relief. He impressed with his outing, holding Baltimore scoreless while striking out three and allowing just one hit — a two-out triple to Robert Andino in the fifth inning.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he was pleased with the way that Liriano located his fastball. Liriano’s breaking pitches looked good in his first spring outing but it’s been his fastball that he’s struggled with at times during his career.

“He was in one of those outings where you kind of get a little disappointed when they hit the ball,” Gardenhire said on Thursday. “There are a lot of swings and misses going on so when they hit it, you’re like [disappointed]. That’s how he threw the ball tonight. The ball was darting. I’m sure the guys on the other side will tell you he was pretty nasty.”

Gardenhire credited the difference in the way Liriano was throwing to his newfound confidence, not only in his stuff but the way he’s feeling physically.

“This game is all about confidence,” Gardenhire said. “Last year, he had just lost his confidence. He was questioning himself about which pitch to throw and all those things. When your stuff gets to a certain point and comes back and your arm feels good and your body feels good then everything starts to fall into place. By listening to him talk, that’s about where he is right now.”

— Drew Butera caught Liriano in his outing, although Joe Mauer had originally planned to do so. But Mauer left the contest after the third inning, thanks to taking a foul tip off his right shoulder. Gardenhire said Mauer was pretty sore after he came out of the game. Mauer had originally been scheduled to play on Friday against the Mets but now they’ll give him the day off.

“We all know catchers take a beating and there is no sense in pressing that,” Gardenhire said.

— Juan Portes continues to impress at the plate. The outfielder went 2-for-2 on Thursday night, with a double and his third home run of the spring. He’s now batting .700 (7-for-10) in six games this spring. His slugging percentage is a ridiculous 1.700.

Gardenhire said he first saw Portes back in Instructional League a few years ago and he liked the outfielder’s swing then.

“I always said he could swing the bat and I think he’s really showing it here,” Gardenhire said. “When you get invited to Major League camp, this is what you try to do. You try to open eyes and impress people. I think he’s doing that very well.”

— Twins bench coach Steve Liddle spent Thursday night in a local hospital after experiencing some dizziness and tightness in his chest during batting practice. Gardenhire said Liddle underwent some tests at the hospital on Thursday night but so far everything has checked out OK.

— Rain forced Thursday night’s contest to be called early and it could impact Friday’s game against the Mets. Gardenhire said there could be a window in the afternoon although rain is forecast for the entire morning.

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