What’s a ring worth? What would you sacrifice for a piece of World Series bling? Ask anyone who has one and they’ll like say it’s worth whatever it took to get it. It’s worth the failures. Worth the pain. Worth the agonizing days of doubt. Worth whatever it took.
Is it worth a young arm? That’s what the Minnesota Twins must’ve asked themselves this afternoon with their prized Kid K, Francisco Liriano, slumped off the mound with no one out against the A’s in Minneapolis. He was one of a wave of young stars that helped baseball survived Yet Another Steroid Season. He was 12-3, a young gun compadre for the Twins’s ace, Johan Santana. Together they were the most dangerous 1-2 pitching tandem in the game, and the reason why the Twins might have been considered the Team Most Likely to Beat the Yankees in the Postseason should they either capture the AL Wild Card or somehow catch the suddenly toothless Tigers to win the AL Central.
Liriano felt pain in his left elbow on August 7 and the Twins made a quick call placing him on the DL. Today was his first major-league start, the first after more than a month of slow, steady rehab, including a pain-free start at Triple-A Rochester on Saturday.
Would it have better to wait some more? Perhaps the entire off season? Liriano is only 22 years old, a toddler in baseball years. Was the risk worth the potential reward?
We won’t know for awhile. Not until next season. Liriano’s return lasted only 28 pitches. He felt a “pop” only he could hear, then, in denial no doubt, threw two more pitches before he slumped from the mound in pain. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and trainers bolted to the mound, where they learned what their young ace-to-be already know.
He was done. Hours later the Twins announced Liriano was done for the season. MRI results won’t be known until tomorrow, so the Twins are not even entertaining any talk of Tommy John ligament replacement surgery. But tonight we know this: The ring is not worth a young arm. Not even close.
In the AL Wild Card race, the Twins lead the Chicago White Sox by 1 1/2 games.