Pirates notebook: Decision on Opening Day starter not far off
A.J. Burnett is gone. Gerrit Cole owns only a handful of starts in the majors. Does that make Francisco Liriano the Opening Day starter?
“We're going to let the pitcher know first,” manager Clint Hurdle said with a chuckle. “Our decision will be forthcoming. It won't be too far into the future.”
It could be argued Liriano deserves the honor after going 16-8 with a 3.02 ERA in 26 starts last season and subduing the Cincinnati Reds in the wild-card playoff game. He was named the National League Comeback Player of the Year.
• Taiwanese left-hander Yao-Hsun Yang threw his first bullpen Friday, one day after he signed a minor league contract with a spring training invite. Yang, 31, worked with fellow nonroster pitchers Jay Jackson, Cody Eppley and Adam Wilk. Eppley, a righty, is a sidearm thrower.
• Chipola Junior College last week retired Russell Martin's No. 12 during a ceremony on the school's campus in Mariana, Fla. “It was a weird feeling because I'm still playing,” Martin said. “Normally that's something that happens after you've finished playing. It definitely was special. I remember that part of my life and how it kind of structured my mentality. We worked so hard. It allowed me to have the attitude I have now, as far as being hard-nosed.” Martin played third base and right field for Chipola in 2000. One of Martin's teammates that season was ex-Pirate Jose Bautista.
— Rob Biertempfel