TribLIVE

| Sports

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

Quietly, veteran pitcher Liriano one of Pirates leaders this season

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.

Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, 8:39 p.m.
 

BRADENTON, Fla. — An outgoing personality and a love of competition made A.J. Burnett one of the Pirates' leaders last season. But after Burnett's departure, the players are not fretting about who will fill his role in the clubhouse.

This year, one of the club's most influential players again can be found in the starting rotation. He has a different style from Burnett — neither loud nor brash — and nobody will get a shaving cream pie in the face.

Left-hander Francisco Liriano might seem an unlikely candidate to be a leader. In fact, he usually shrugs off suggestions that his teammates look to him for cues. But he does the job just the same.

“The warrior-type attitude (Burnett) had kind of trickled down. But he wasn't the only leader on the team,” catcher Russell Martin said. “Liriano was more of a quiet presence, but he took the ball every time and competed just like A.J. did. You can't replace somebody, but the next guy can do what he can to make his own mark.”

Liriano earned respect by what he did on the field. A broken non-pitching arm nearly cost him a chance to sign with the Pirates and then sidelined him until early May. He finished with 16 regular-season wins, then rang up a stirring victory in the National League wild-card game.

“One thing about Frankie, he's a quiet leader,” pitching coach Ray Searage said. “He'll lead by his actions on the bump. He's helped out not only with the Latin pitchers but also the American pitchers. He's very approachable and very knowledgeable. That's why guys kind of congregate around him.”

During spring training this year, manager Clint Hurdle has matched Liriano with new arrival Edinson Volquez for bullpen sessions and other drills. Hurdle expects that working with Liriano, the NL Comeback Player of the Year, can only help Volquez, who went 9-12 with a 5.71 ERA last season.

“I wanted to get Edinson to hang around a guy who works extremely well and is professional,” Hurdle said. “I think that companionship, camaraderie, bonding and sharing of information is going to help.”

The communication flows both ways as Liriano is not afraid to ask for advice from guys on the pitching staff. Before his first start against the Milwaukee Brewers last season, Liriano pulled aside left-hander Wandy Rodriguez in the clubhouse.

“He asked me, ‘Wandy, how do you pitch to (Carlos) Gomez? Every time I face him, he kills me. So I'm willing to try anything,' ” Rodriguez said. “I told him, ‘Never repeat the pitch. Throw inside and up, and he'll be swinging. He loves to swing. Throw him an inside fastball, so later you can go away with a breaking ball in the dirt.' ”

In the first inning, Gomez faced Liriano with a runner on base and two outs.

“Liriano went one pitch, two pitches, three pitches and he got him (swinging),” Rodriguez said. “He came off the field and told me, ‘Oh, thank you!' ”

Entering the game, Gomez was 5 for 8, including two home runs, in his career against Liriano. That night, Gomez went 0 for 4, including a pair of strikeouts, and Liriano picked up the win.

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 pitcher Francisco Liriano delivers to the Yankees' Jacoby Ellsbury during the first inning Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano delivers to the Yankees' Jacoby Ellsbury during the first inning Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano delivers to the Yankees' Jacoby Ellsbury during the first inning Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano delivers to the Yankees' Jacoby Ellsbury during the first inning Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates pitchers Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon run together during their workout Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates pitchers Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon run together during their workout Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano delivers during the first inning against the Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano delivers during the first inning against the Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano delivers to the Yankees' Jacoby Ellsbury during the first inning Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano delivers to the Yankees' Jacoby Ellsbury during the first inning Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano takes the field for the opening game of spring training against the Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano takes the field for the opening game of spring training against the Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano warms up in the bullpen before pitching against the Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano warms up in the bullpen before pitching against the Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates catcher Tony Sanchez watches his three-run homer against the Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates catcher Tony Sanchez watches his three-run homer against the Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates catcher Tony Sanchez celebrates his three-run homer with Jaff Decker against the Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates catcher Tony Sanchez celebrates his three-run homer with Jaff Decker against the Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - The Pirate Parrot streaks through the outfield past umpires as he is chased by security during a game against the New York Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>The Pirate Parrot streaks through the outfield past umpires as he is chased by security during a game against the New York Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - The Pirates' Neil Walker, Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez take the field for the opening game of spring training against the Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>The Pirates' Neil Walker, Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez take the field for the opening game of spring training against the Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates center fielder Chris Dickerson makes a running catch at the outfield wall against the New York Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates center fielder Chris Dickerson makes a running catch at the outfield wall against the New York Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - The Pirates' Gaby Sanchez slides safely into third base as Yankees third baseman Zelous Wheeler takes a throw Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>The Pirates' Gaby Sanchez slides safely into third base as Yankees third baseman Zelous Wheeler takes a throw Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates special assistant Jim Benedict watches Wandy Rodriguez pitch a bullpen session before an exhibition game against the New York Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates special assistant  Jim Benedict watches Wandy Rodriguez pitch a bullpen session before an exhibition game against the New York Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano walks from the mound after giving up two runs in the first inning against the Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano walks from the mound after giving up two runs in the first inning against the Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates infielder Brent Morel fields a ground ball during drills before a game against the New York Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates infielder Brent Morel fields a ground ball during drills before a game against the New York Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates catcher Tony Sanchez celebrates his three-run homer against the New York Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates catcher Tony Sanchez celebrates his three-run homer against the New York Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates Triple-A pitching coach Tom Filer talks with Ray Searage before a game against the New York Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates Triple-A pitching coach Tom Filer talks with Ray Searage before a game against the New York Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates center fielder Chris Dickerson plays a ball off of the wall next to Gregory Polanco during a game against the New York Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates center fielder Chris Dickerson plays a ball off of the wall next to Gregory Polanco during a game against the New York Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates shortstop Alen Hanson singles against the New York Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates shortstop Alen Hanson singles against the New York Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates relievers Jared Hughes and Duke Welker warm up in the outfield before the Grapefruit League opener against the New York Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates relievers Jared Hughes and Duke Welker warm up in the outfield before the Grapefruit League opener against the New York Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates reliever Jared Hughes pitches against the New York Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates reliever Jared Hughes pitches against the New York Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates pitcher Edinson Volquez throws against the Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates pitcher Edinson Volquez throws against the Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates pitcher Edinson Volquez throws against the Yankees Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates pitcher Edinson Volquez throws against the Yankees Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates pitcher Edinson Volquez walks from the mound after giving up two runs during the second inning against the Yankees Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates pitcher Edinson Volquez walks from the mound after giving up two runs during the second inning against the Yankees Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Pirates

  1. Ejections, heated moments mark Pirates’ win over Reds
  2. Starting 9: Examining Pirates’ deadline decisions
  3. Biertempfel: Players, MLB agree logic of season’s setup needs to be examined
  4. Pirates notebook: New acquisition Happ more than happy to fill spot in rotation
  5. Pirates trade for Dodgers 1B/OF Morse, Mariners LHP Happ
  6. Marte’s 2 fine defensive plays rescue Pirates in victory over Reds
  7. Pirates farmhand Suchy learns limits of his size, strength
  8. Reds solve Cole, stave off Pirates’ 9th-inning rally
  9. Hurdle: Soria likely to assume setup role with Watson
  10. Pirates place Burnett on 15-day disabled list
  11. Gameday: Pirates at Reds, Aug. 2, 2015