Opening Day of the Major League Baseball season didn’t include my favorite team’s most exciting young player. He wasn’t on the mound or in the bullpen. The young man, Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano, wasn’t even in uniform. The golden armed thrower had been sent down to the minors after Spring Training. No, this was no Charlie Brown moment. He was simply being prepared for his comeback effort. Happens all the time in horse racing.
Case in point: the reigning Horse of the Year is Curlin, a star pupil of national leading trainer Steve Asmussen. The accomplished son of Smart Strike was put on the shelf after his impressive victory in the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Athletes, both horse and human, often need a break to recover from the rigors of their efforts. As Curlin was being pointed towards a later start in this year’s Dubai Racing Carnival, his trainer selected a minor stakes race for the colt’s return to competition. The champion easily found his stride and defeated less heralded opponents.
Likewise, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire sent Liriano to face hitters in the minor league as the ace pitcher returns to competition from his own layoff. Reports have it that he’s once again finding the arm motion that confused the best of batters. Look for him to rejoin the Majors at the end of next week. By the way, Curlin graduated from his preparatory race and vanquished an international top class field in the headlining $6 Million Dubai World Cup. Every journey is one step, or pitch, at a time.