Pirates notebook: Rodriguez continues to progress
By Rob Biertempfel
Published: Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013, 6:57 p.m.
DENVER — Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez said he felt fine Saturday after throwing his first bullpen session since late June.
“No problems,” said Rodriguez, who has been out since June 6 with left forearm tightness. “I was a little bit scared because I didn't want to feel any pain again.”
Rodriguez threw a 25-pitch mix of fastballs and changeups. He is not throwing his fastball at full velocity.
“One step at a time,” he said.
Rodriguez said he is scheduled to throw another bullpen Wednesday in St. Louis and a simulated game next weekend in Pittsburgh.
Also, closer Jason Grilli (strained forearm) played catch for the second day in a row. Grilli made 25 tosses Friday and two sets of 25 on Saturday.
‘Flush it, and move on'
Perhaps Francisco Liriano was not prepared to pitch in the mile-high funhouse that is Coors Field. Maybe the Rockies simply were determined not to fall prey to him again.
Whatever the reason, it led Liriano to his worst-ever outing and left the Pirates on the wrong end of a 10-1 rout Friday night.
It was Liriano's 185th career start — third against the Rockies — but the first time he had worked at Coors Field. He lasted only 21⁄3 innings and gave up 10 runs on 12 hits.
His slider, which has been so devastating, lacked bite. His fastball was merely batting-practice quality.
“It's different here than other places,” Liriano said. “My slider wasn't that sharp, and my sinker wasn't moving at all. I tried to go two-seamer away, but it stayed right down the middle, straight up. No matter what I threw, they hit it.”
In his previous start, Liriano blanked Colorado on three hits over seven innings at PNC Park. The Rockies better prepared this time.
“He tried to use the same approach he used last time,” said Wilin Rosario, who had a two-run homer among his three hits. “We were ready.”
Manager Clint Hurdle said there weren't lessons for Liriano to take away from the outing, which boosted the lefty's ERA from 2.02 to 2.83.
“You don't psychoanalyze it, and you don't overcook it,” Hurdle said. “Flush it, and move on.”
Mark Melancon has filled in ably as closer since Grilli went on the DL. Although the results have been the same, there is a distinct difference in style.
After nailing down a save, Grilli is a flurry of fist pumps, shouts and flying locks of long hair. Melancon simply walks off the mound and shakes hands with the catcher.
“The two greatest closers of all time were flat-line guys: (Trevor) Hoffman and (Mariano) Rivera,” Hurdle said. “They never beat their chest. They had some pretty good music to come in to, and that's when the pitching started. It's pretty much the same way with Melancon. The most exciting thing is the walk-in song. It doesn't make him good or bad; it makes him different.”
Just because Melancon doesn't put on a show after getting the final out doesn't mean he isn't intense on the mound.
“Mark is very humble and very competitive. The part you don't get to see is that competitive edge,” Hurdle said. “They've got different ways of showing it. Different guys.”
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.
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