CHICAGO -- This series is the first time Minnesota has seen former Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano since he pitched against his former team three days after being dealt to the White Sox in late July.
And although the lefty won't oppose his former teammates this time around, manager Ron Gardenhire admitted it was still weird seeing him in White Sox pinstripes during Monday's opener.
"Looking over in the dugout last night, I saw him down there at the end of the dugout and that's kind of a weird thing, to tell you the truth," Gardenhire said.
Liriano, 28, went 50-52 with a 4.33 ERA in parts of seven seasons with Minnesota and Gardenhire said the lefty is missed.
"I liked Frankie a lot. He's fun to have out and around here and fun as a teammate," Gardenhire said. "I do miss him an awful lot. He was a pleasure for me. He was stand-up guy over here, was accountable."
Escobar gets chance against former team
CHICAGO -- Eduardo Escobar joined the Twins on Tuesday at U.S. Cellular Field and was immediately placed in the lineup.
Escobar, one of two players acquired from the White Sox on July 28 for left-hander Francisco Liriano, started at shortstop and hit ninth. He went 2-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored in the Twins' 18-9 rout.
"I think he's taken plenty of ground balls out here, so put him out there and let him play," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said before the game. "I'm excited to see him out there."
Escobar played in 36 games with Chicago before the trade, but Tuesday marked his Twins debut after playing 35 games with Triple-A Rochester. Escobar, 23, admitted he was saddened to be immediately assigned to the Minors after the trade, but is glad to be back.
"I felt a little bit disappointed because I wanted to be here. I was in the big leagues," said Escobar, who hit .217 at Triple-A. "But I understood I had to go back to Triple-A and do the things I do to get back to the big leagues."
He returned to the Majors on Tuesday, facing the team that dealt him away.
"This is a little hard because I played all my career with the White Sox, and I appreciate a lot the opportunity they gave me to play in the big leagues," Escobar said. "But I appreciate being here, too. They've given me another opportunity here."
The addition of Escobar gives Minnesota four middle-infield options, along with Jamey Carroll, Alexi Casilla and Pedro Florimon. Gardenhire said he spoke with the four prior to Tuesday's game about how playing time will be split.
"We're going to play everybody, we're going to use everybody," Gardenhire said. "[They'll] take ground balls at each place out there and we'll just use combinations to make sure they all get a chance to play."
Playing time a factor for callups in final month
CHICAGO -- Although Major League rosters can include up to 40 players in September, that doesn't mean clubs max out their new-found flexibility during the season's final month.
After all, there are still only 10 positions -- including designated hitter -- that can be used and only so much available playing time. That's one of the reasons Twins general manager Terry Ryan said Tuesday the club opted not to include infielder Brian Dozier and right-hander Anthony Slama among its September callups.
Slama, 28, put together an impressive season at Triple-A Rochester, posting a 1.24 ERA and 14 saves in 31 games for the Red Wings. He also struck out 56 batters in 36 1/3 innings while walking 18. Ryan admitted Slama, who missed some time with an injury, put together a good season and was under consideration.
The Twins instead recalled right-hander Luis Perdomo and chose to promote infielder Eduardo Escobar. Those decisions, Ryan said, were mainly about evaluating the other two players.
"We know a lot more about Anthony Slama than we do Perdomo, frankly, so it's one of those situations -- it's just like bringing Escobar up instead of Dozier," Ryan said. "We need to find something out about these guys we don't know so much about."
Ryan said both he and Twins manager Ron Gardenhire have spoken to Dozier about their decision. Ryan said although Dozier was disappointed, he also understood and is open to playing winter ball -- something Ryan and Gardenhire said they wanted the 25-year-old to do.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Josh Willingham was doing better Tuesday, but still opted to have the slugger serve as the team's designated hitter for the second straight day. Willingham missed Sunday's game with a sore hamstring.
General manager Terry Ryan said he hopes outfielder Denard Span (right shoulder) can rejoin the team when he's eligible to come off the disabled list on Sept. 12, but added he would have a better idea once the team returns to Minnesota.
Ryan said right-hander Matt Capps is throwing off flat ground. He has been on the disabled list since July 17 with right rotator cuff irritation.
Not only was Jamey Carroll's fifth-inning home run Monday his first in 1,348 at-bats, it also was the first by a Twins second baseman since Trevor Plouffe went deep on Sept. 2, 2011.
Triple-A Rochester outfielder Wilken Ramirez was named International Player of the Week after hitting .367 with four doubles, three home runs and 10 RBIs.