MINNEAPOLIS -- In an effort to help him clear his head after struggling in four outings so far this season, the Twins will skip left-hander Francisco Liriano's turn in the rotation this week.
Minnesota has an off-day on Thursday, which allows the Twins to go with a four-man rotation before Liriano makes his next start May 1 in Anaheim vs. the Angels. Liriano, who allowed five runs in five innings on Sunday against the Rays, has an 11.02 ERA with 12 strikeouts and 13 walks in 16 1/3 innings.
Manager Ron Gardenhire told Liriano of the club's decision during a meeting on Monday that also included pitching coach Rick Anderson, who will watch Liriano throw bullpen sessions on Thursday and Saturday.
"It's about being able to relax on the mound, and he knows that," Gardenhire said. "He actually says he has confidence, but he'll tell you straight out that when he gets men out there, he starts spinning 'em. So he's got to be able to control that. It's a work in progress. We're letting him take a step back and relax a little bit."
Gardenhire added that Liriano, who is on board with the decision to skip his start, also has to fix a few mechanical flaws.
"Andy and him are going to have long conversations," Gardenhire said. "They already are. As you can see, they're working on things, talking about things. He's wide open. He's had his struggles right now and he's wide open. He's searching for answers."
Morneau gets start at first base facing Red Sox
MINNEAPOLIS -- Justin Morneau made his second start of the season at first base on Monday against the Red Sox.
Morneau has almost exclusively started at designated hitter this year to help limit the chances of suffering a setback related to his concussion-related symptoms. His only other start at first came on April 16, when he went 2-for-5 with a home run against the Yankees in New York.
Manager Ron Gardenhire said Morneau will see more action at first base moving forward to get ready for Interleague Play, which begins for Minnesota on May 18 in Milwaukee.
"We've talked about that a lot," Gardenhire said. "Being the DH is still a learning process for him. It helps him get through some of the things maybe he couldn't get through playing. But still, he likes to be out there. Mentally, you're into it both ways and you don't sit around thinking about your next at-bat. He likes that part of it, so we're going to put him over there here and there and mix him in as best as we can. But we all know it's about keeping him on the field, too. But he also wants to get out there every once in a while."
Willingham to go on paternity leave Wednesday
MINNEAPOLIS -- Left fielder Josh Willingham will be placed on paternity leave on Wednesday to attend the birth of his third child with his wife, Ginger.
Manager Ron Gardenhire said there is a chance that Willingham could return by Friday after Thursday's off-day, but the club will call up a player to take his spot on the roster just in case.
"We will be using a paternity callup, as they put it," Gardenhire said. "There'll probably be a player on his way up here [Tuesday] to join us for the final game of the series, and then we'll see what happens come Friday, if Josh is going to be at the park or not at the park."
Willingham and his wife are due to have their third son, as they also have Rhett, 5, and Ryder, 2.
Battling flu-like symptoms, Casilla out of lineup
MINNEAPOLIS -- Second baseman Alexi Casilla was a late scratch with flu-like symptoms on Monday against the Red Sox.
Trevor Plouffe moved from left field to second base to take Casilla's place in the lineup, while Chris Parmelee made his first career start in left field.
Parmelee saw one inning of action in right field on Wednesday, but that was his only outfield experience in the Majors prior to Monday. In the Minors, Parmelee made 286 starts in the outfield, but only four of those came in left field.
"Parmelee's been running around out there, taking all kinds of work out there in left field," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's excited about it."