- Scott Powers, Reporter
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Newly acquired Chicago White Sox pitcher Francisco Liriano said Sunday he was surprised to be traded within the American League Central by the Minnesota Twins but looks forward to helping the first-place White Sox make a push for the playoffs.
Liriano was dealt to the White Sox for infielder Eduardo Escobar and pitcher Pedro Hernandez on Saturday. Liriano struggled early in the season, was demoted to the bullpen and has had success for much of the last two months since returning to the rotation. He is 3-10 with a 5.31 ERA on the season.
Liriano has allowed three runs or less in eight of his last 11 starts. He's also had games of 10 and 15 strikeouts in July. His only non-quality start since late May came against the White Sox last Monday, when he allowed seven runs in 2 2/3 innings.
"I was really surprised even though I knew something like that was going to happen, but not to the White Sox," Liriano said on a conference call Sunday. "But you know, it is what it is. They're in first place, they believe in me, so hopefully I can go out there and help them win some ballgames.
"I feel like I'm being more consistent than I was before, throwing more strikes, going deeper in games, too. I think I'm playing really well right now and try to take that to the White Sox and hopefully help them win some ballgames."
Liriano said he was unsure how he would be used with the White Sox and whether he would pitch in the team's upcoming series against the Twins.
White Sox general manager Ken Williams said Liriano interested him because of his ability, experience and the added flexibility he provides the team's rotation.
"We've had the displeasure of facing him when he's been on his game," Williams said. "He's got some of the best stuff in the league and has had for quite some time. We understand we're getting a competitor, a guy who has pitched some big games and has pitched well in those big games. We hope to have a number of them as we go down the stretch.
"All we're asking him to do right now is help us in throwing good strikes, throwing his best pitches over the plate. (Pitching coach) Don Cooper has a little wisdom that he can impart to him. We're going to keep it simple."
Williams believes with Liriano's addition the White Sox can afford to give young pitchers Chris Sale, who has transitioned from the bullpen to a starter this season, and rookie Jose Quintana more rest.
"I think everyone that has watched us knows our guys just have been going at it full tilt since the beginning of the season," Williams said. "We've done that with a largely young contingent of pitchers. With that, we felt that just as in the Brett Myers' acquisition, we needed some guys who had a veteran presence about them, had pitched through the difficult months of August and September and can weather some of these storms mentally and physically.
"What you'll see we'll have a conversation with Chris Sale, with Quintana and a number of the other young guys, and what we will do is ask them how they're feeling and how best to get them through the rest of the season with the mindset of we have a little bit of a luxury we can insert a guy here or there depending on the match up and give them an extra day's rest, an extra two days' rest or skip a start if need be."
Williams said he isn't officially done trading, but he doubted there would be any more pitchers added to the staff.
"I feel like we've addressed some issues we've had," Williams said. "We solidified ourselves not just in terms of talent, but in terms of experience. We maintained our consistent message that this year, yes, we think we're a competitive team, but we're also building for the future."