| Sports

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

Pirates notebook: Liriano throws off mound with no issues

Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Francisco Liriano is expected to be the Opening Day starter against the Cubs on Monday at PNC Park.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Francisco Liriano is expected to be the Opening Day starter against the Cubs on Monday at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano throws in the bullpen at Pirate City during spring training in Bradenton, Fla.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano throws in the bullpen at Pirate City during spring training in Bradenton, Fla.

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, March 26, 2014, 7:30 p.m.

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Despite a groin injury, left-hander Francisco Liriano is still on track to be the Pirates' Opening Day starter.

Liriano tested his sore left groin Wednesday by throwing 55 pitches in a simulated game at McKechnie Field. He had no problems throwing from the windup and stretch or getting off the mound to field grounders.

Liriano had been running in drills for three days before the sim game. Wednesday was the first time he had thrown off a mound since leaving in the sixth inning last Thursday against the Baltimore Orioles.

“It didn't bother me at all,” Liriano said after the workout. “I feel normal. We'll see how I feel (Thursday). I think I'm ready to go.”

The final determination will be made after Liriano throws a side session Saturday in Philadelphia. If the discomfort flares up again then, Liriano could go on the disabled list and right-hander Brandon Cumpton likely would pitch Monday's opener against the Chicago Cubs.

Cumpton tossed five shut out innings and struck out four Wednesday against the Minnesota Twins. He ended spring training with a 2.21 ERA in six outings (two starts).

“It's a balance between making sure we don't put (Liriano) in harm's way and making sure we respect his desire to compete when he says he's ready to go,” general manager Neal Huntington said.

Liriano did not make his first start last season until mid-May due to a broken right arm.

“Last year I started on the DL,” Liriano said. “I don't want to have the same thing happen to me this year. But at the same time, I want to be sure that I'm healthy for the whole year, not just one game.”

Volquez to stay behind

Right-hander Edinson Volquez also pitched in the sim game. Despite rocky outings in spring training, Volquez will be the No. 5 starter in the rotation.

Volquez will remain in Florida for extended spring training after the Pirates break camp. He's scheduled to throw up to 100 pitches Sunday in a minor league game.

Volquez will make his Pirates debut April 6 against the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park.

A change for Mazzaro

Until last year, when he put together a breakout season with the Pirates, Vin Mazzaro was best known for an infamous relief outing with the Kansas City Royals.

In May 2011, Mazzaro allowed 14 runs in 2 13 innings against the Cleveland Indians. He was the first pitcher since 1900 to give up that many runs in fewer than three innings.

Mazzaro was one of the last players cut from spring training camp last year, then was called up to Pittsburgh on April 16 and stayed the rest of the season. He was not scored upon in his first 16 innings at PNC Park and pitched five perfect innings of relief in a 14-inning game June 30 against Milwaukee.

When Mazzaro worked more than one inning, he had a 0.91 ERA. On July 22, when closer Jason Grilli was injured during a game against Washington, Mazzaro took over to notch his first career save.

“Every year is big,” Mazzaro said. “But that one was pretty important for me and my career.”

Mazzaro was used mostly as a starter from 2009-12 with the Royals and Oakland Athletics. Last season was the first in which he was used exclusively as a reliever, and Mazzaro flourished.

He allowed only 13 percent of inherited runners to score and got more than three outs in 25 of his 57 outings.

Mainly a two-pitch guy last season, Mazzaro is working to add a changeup to his fastball-slider repertoire. It's a good weapon to get left-handed hitters off the fastball away.

“I've always had one, but it was a tough pitch for me, so I never used it a lot,” Mazzaro said. “It's a feel thing. I've played with tons of grips and finally found one I'm pretty comfortable with.

“It's mostly a matter of trusting it, than anything else. I got to the point now where I can throw it and not worry about the result. Stay positive, and you'll have positive results.”

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

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. Cole collects MLB-best 14th win as Pirates take series against Nationals
  4. Pirates notebook: No sign of improvement for RHP Sadler
  5. Starting 9: Pirates help and the illusion of help
  6. Pirates minor league report: Moore a breakout star in Morgantown
  7. Nationals pound Burnett, Pirates
  8. Making splash at MLB trade deadline not always in buyers’ best interest
  9. Gameday: Pirates vs. Nationals, July 26, 2015
  10. Pirates pursuing trade offers for first baseman Alvarez
  11. Pirates notebook: Watson makes milestone appearance