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Liriano talks about bullpen session, return to Twins

Nothing has been easy for Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano to begin the season.

Skipped over in his last start because of early season struggles, in which he went 0-3 with a 11.02 ERA, Liriano has had time to clear his head and work on his mechanics.

Whether the tactic has worked or not will become clear Tuesday when he takes the mound against the Angels at Angel Stadium.

"Honestly, I'm just excited to see him back out there. He's been sitting around long enough," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I'm excited to see 'Cisco go out there and take the ball. We need him in our rotation. This will hopefully be a fun time where he can relax and hopefully go about his business."

Liriano isn't trying to think too much about starting again and instead is choosing to focus on what he has to do to be successful against a struggling Angels lineup.

"I'm just trying to stay tall. I'm trying to locate my fastball," Liriano said. "Just staying tall is the main thing for me. Sometimes I get too low. So I want to stay tall and downhill."

With the Angels limited to just 15 runs in the last eight games and finishing April with a 8-15 record, manager Mike Scioscia is trying to make sure that his club stays loose and relaxed.

"I think the important thing for us is to keep this environment positive, keep the guys working towards a goal of not trying to do too much," Scioscia said. "Less is more, for sure, and we need these guys to just play their game, not try to be superhuman."

And while the team is in fourth place in the American League West and came into Tuesday's game 24th in the Majors in runs per game, Scioscia still believes the team's effort is there.

"You can't generalize, but there's certainly more of a gripping-the-bat-too-tight scenario as opposed to a lack of focus," Scioscia said. "And I think that's something that guys just need to play free and understand let's go out and play baseball, and that just starts to dissipate."

Twins: Mauer misses first game
After playing in every inning of the Twins' first 21 games, catcher Joe Mauer was out of the lineup against the Angels on Monday after taking a foul ball off his left knee Sunday.

Mauer was hit right above his knee by a foul tip from Royals catcher Brayan Pena in the ninth inning of the Twins' 7-4 win over Kansas City.

"I'm pretty sore from yesterday," Mauer said. "I'm going to get in there and get some treatment like I've been doing. Hopefully, I'll be back in there [Tuesday]."

Angels: Williams gets start
Right-hander Jerome Williams will get the start Tuesday after tossing two straight quality outings since opening the season with a loss.

He got the no-decision Thursday against the Rays despite allowing two runs on five hits in seven innings. On the season, Williams is 1-1 with a 5.51 ERA.

• Veteran corner infielder Jorge Cantu opted out of his Minor League contract with the Angels on Monday and is now a free agent. Cantu was signed over the offseason and began the 2012 campaign with Triple-A Salt Lake after the Angels opted to go with utility man Alexi Amarista as their 14th position player.

Worth Noting
• Twins manager Ron Gardenhire will miss the club's three-game series against the Mariners in Seattle this weekend to attend his daughter Tara's graduation from Southwest Minnesota State. Bench coach Scott Ullger will serve as manager in his absence.

• Torii Hunter is three runs shy of 1,000 for his career, while Albert Pujols is one run shy of 1,300 for his career.

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