Thursday, March 24, 2011

Liriano Fans Nine in Three Innings; Branyan Hopes to Catch on with D-Backs

 Players of the Day for Wednesday, March 23, 2011

American League

Francisco Liriano
For Francisco Liriano, it was all or nothing for three innings as the Twins etched a 5-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles.

The power-pitching lefty threw 76 pitches over just three innings, coming off a short Spring rest due to a sore shoulder. Liriano either struck out or allowed a hit or a walk to every one of the 16 batters he faced: nine punch-outs, three walks and four hits, one of those a towering home run by Baltimore's Adam Jones, his 4th of the exhibition season.

The nine strikeouts was the most recorded by a pitcher this Spring.

Liriano is still looking for the control that made him one of the brightest prospects back in 2006, when he went 12-3 before succumbing to injury. After missing all of 2007, he's gone 25-27 over three seasons, though last year's 14-10 mark was encouraging.

National League

Russell Branyan
Since becoming somewhat of a regular in 2000, Russell Branyan has played for nine major league teams, but wherever he goes, he carries a big stick.

His current team, the Arizona Diamondbacks, got a taste of what he does to pitches in his wheelhouse as he parked an offering by Arthur Rhodes into the cheap seats. Having the bases chock full of teammates was a happy coincidence, producing a grand slam and a lead for the D-Backs, who went on to a 9-8 victory over the Texas Rangers.

Branyan also singled in four at-bats, scored twice and finished with five RBI. He's in Arizona's camp hoping to make the roster as the regular first baseman.

The slugger has 189 homers on his well-traveled resume, but also carries a lifetime .234 batting average and 1077 strikeouts in 2807 at-bats.

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