TribLIVE

| Sports

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Pirates notebook: Hurdle picks Liriano to start Opening Day

Pirates/MLB Videos

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Pirates podcasts

  • Loading...

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, 2:06 p.m.
 

BRADENTON, Fla. — Left-hander Francisco Liriano will be the Pirates' Opening Day starter March 31 against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park.

It's no surprise manager Clint Hurdle selected Liriano. Last year's Opening Day starter, A.J. Burnett, signed last week with the Philadelphia Phillies. Gerrit Cole has less than a full season's experience. Edinson Volquez is a newcomer, and Charlie Morton has not yet done enough to deserve the honor.

Liriano, 30, spent last spring rehabbing from a broken right arm and did not make his Pirates debut until May 11. He ended the season with a 16-8 record and 3.02 ERA. He finished ninth in Cy Young voting and was named NL Comeback Player of the Year.

“He's a guy who models the behavior you want to see in others,” Hurdle said. “He's a man you can depend on. Many times I've shared with these players the greatest ability you can have, day in and day out, is your dependability. We have that in Francisco.”

Hurdle revealed he had chosen Liriano during a team meeting Tuesday morning, but the decision was not made public until that afternoon after the first full-squad workout. By then, Liriano already had left the spring training complex.

This will be Liriano's second career Opening Day assignment. He opened the 2009 season for the Minnesota Twins and gave up four runs in seven innings in a 6-1 loss against the Seattle Mariners.

Sneak peek

The highlight of Tuesday's drills was seeing the dream outfield — Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco — work together in batting practice and shagging fly balls.

Spring training probably will be the only time all three are on the same field until at least mid-June. Polanco, the club's top prospect, is expected to begin the season at Triple-A Indianapolis.

“I can't wait to see what Polanco does in spring training,” McCutchen said. “Every time you read up on him, it seems he's done something well. He already has the physical part down. Now it's just going out and doing it.”

Grilli update

Jason Grilli worked out in the secondary bullpen, which is behind a screen and out of sight from fans and most other observers. The 37-year-old closer's routine has more time off from mound work built into it to reduce wear and tear.

“He threw off the slope: five (pitches) from flat ground and 15 from up on the mound,” Hurdle said. “He felt good to go, so we'll add to that moving forward.”

Because he played in the World Baseball Classic, Grilli pitched in just six Grapefruit League games for the Pirates last spring. Hurdle said Grilli will get more action than that this year but did not elaborate.

Around the horn

Infielder Josh Harrison arrived in Florida on Tuesday afternoon and missed the day's workout at Pirate City. Harrison was allowed to report late; his wife delivered a baby girl a few days ago. “We wanted to give him extra time to get his family settled and situated,” Hurdle said. ... Owner Bob Nutting was scheduled to arrive in Bradenton on Tuesday night and will give his annual address to the team Wednesday morning. ... Right fielder Travis Snider was unable to swing a bat in workouts because he recently sliced a finger on his left hand while chopping sweet potatoes. The finger is bandaged, and Snider will be limited to shagging flies until it heals.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates outfielders Andrew McCutchen, Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte prepare to take batting practice Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates outfielders Andrew McCutchen, Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte prepare to take batting practice Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen smiles as he catches a ball during the first full-squad workout Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen smiles as he catches a ball during the first full-squad workout Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco takes batting practice with Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte during a first full-squad workout Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco takes batting practice with Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte during a first full-squad workout Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Pirates

  1. Pirates third baseman Ramirez’s last ride is about winning a ring
  2. Gameday: Pirates at Twins, July 28, 2015
  3. Pirates notebook: No sign of improvement for RHP Sadler
  4. Cole collects MLB-best 14th win as Pirates take series against Nationals
  5. Starting 9: Pirates help and the illusion of help
  6. Pirates minor league report: Moore a breakout star in Morgantown
  7. Making splash at MLB trade deadline not always in buyers’ best interest
  8. Pirates trade for familiar face in Ramirez
  9. Pirates notebook: Cervelli cherishes All-Star gift from teammate Burnett
  10. Miscues, mental errors help Royals down pitcher Cole, Pirates
  11. Pirates notebook: Watson makes milestone appearance