MINNEAPOLIS -- Left-hander Francisco Liriano, who was moved to the bullpen to make room for right-hander P.J. Walters in the rotation, made his first relief appearance this season in the Twins' 5-4 loss to the Indians on Monday.
Liriano, making his first appearance since starting against the Angels on May 7, tossed two scoreless innings in relief of right-hander Carl Pavano. Liriano didn't allow a hit, but walked the bases loaded with two out in the eighth before striking out Michael Brantley to end the inning.
"He needed to pitch," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Liriano. "He needed innings. We talked about that. So it was a little bit of both protecting Carl and hopefully Frankie giving us some innings to keep us in the ballgame. And he did. It wasn't pretty but he got through it."
Liriano has 22 career appearances as a reliever compared to 119 games as a starter. He has a career 4.21 ERA in the bullpen with most of his time there coming in 2006, when he made 12 relief appearances.
Liriano is still expected to return to the rotation at some point, but there's no timetable for his return as a starter. Walters pitched well in his first start, allowing two runs over six innings against the Blue Jays on Saturday.
Morneau progressing with live batting session
MINNEAPOLIS -- Justin Morneau took a big step in his rehab process with his sore left wrist, as he took live batting for the first time in nearly two weeks on Monday at Target Field.
Morneau, who is on the disabled list retroactive to May 1, took about 35-40 swings, and reported no problems. He said he's still dealing with some soreness, but it's getting to the point where it's tolerable.
"It's getting better," Morneau said before the series opener against Cleveland. "Whether it will be gone completely, I don't know. I'm hopeful. But as long as I'm able to swing the way I want to swing, as long as it's manageable, that's something we can deal with."
Morneau said he doesn't have a specific target date for his return, but remains optimistic he'll be ready to go once he's eligible to come off the disabled list on Wednesday in Detroit.
"Today was just the first step in getting out there swinging and taking batting practice on the field," Morneau said. "Hopefully it feels good the rest of the day and [I will] go out [Tuesday] and do the same thing. So we'll figure it out. I don't really have a timeline yet, but I'm hopeful it's sooner than later, that's for sure."
Morneau said he's still not sure if he'll make his return as a first baseman or designated hitter, as he's still discussing that with manager Ron Gardenhire. But he might not have a choice if he plays over the weekend, as the Twins play the Brewers in Milwaukee in Interleague Play and there won't be a designated hitter.
"I don't know if it'll help it stay more warm and loose if I'm at first," Morneau said. "So I'll have to check with Gardy. Whatever he wants to do with the lineup. Most of the time I'd rather play first, but whatever works best."
Twins lacking familiarity with Central rivals
MINNEAPOLIS -- With a strange schedule to open the season, the Twins entered Monday's game against the Indians having played just two of their first 34 games against American League Central opponents.
Those two games came against the Royals on April 27 and 29, as they split the two games after a rainout on April 28 at Target Field.
The Twins finish the season with 70 of their final 128 games (55 percent) against division opponents. They've fared well historically against the AL Central, as they have a .572 winning percentage (166-124) against division foes over the last four years.
"It's a little different," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We've played the Angels nine times already. It's a little bit strange. But what can you do? We don't make the schedules. We only play them."