"Because of everything we've seen about him since he showed up," the manager explained at Pirate City. "At this time last year, he was rehabbing. He wasn't even in the picture. The game demands, the clubhouse -- he's another guy who models the behavior you want to instill in others. He does it every day. He's a man you can depend on. And I share with these players that the greatest ability you can have day in and day out is your dependability. And we have that in Francisco."
That Liriano, who started on Opening Day 2009 for the Twins, would get the honor for the March 31 game against the Cubs seemed obvious after A.J. Burnett left as a free agent. Liriano departed the clubhouse before the news broke, but told reporters last week that he doesn't consider himself the ace of the staff.
"We have great pitchers, and I am just trying to fit in well with everybody and do my job," he said. "I am looking forward to Opening Day and trying to get ready for the season. My goal is to stay healthy the whole year and try to win 20 at least."
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.