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Pirates notebook: Liriano heading to Indianapolis on rehab assignment

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'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.

Thursday, July 3, 2014, 6:12 p.m.
 

Left-hander Francisco Liriano appears to be on track to rejoin the Pirates' starting rotation soon after the All-Star break.

Liriano, who has been on the disabled list since June 11 because of a left oblique strain, will make his first rehab start Monday with Triple-A Indianapolis. He's scheduled for five innings/85 pitches.

“We'll see how I feel after that and then (determine) what's next,” Liriano said.

Wednesday, Liriano threw 73 pitches during a simulated game at PNC Park.

“The first couple days, I was a little scared to throw because I didn't want to get hurt again,” Liriano said. “Now, I feel more free, so I don't fear that at all. Everything feels good now.”

Liriano, 30, has made 14 starts and is 1-6 with a 4.60 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP.

International signings

According to Baseball America, the Pirates picked up seven players during the international signing period, which began Wednesday.

The group is led by outfielder Yondry Contreras, 16, of the Dominican Republic. He trained with the Dominican Prospect League, which reported that he got a $400,000 bonus. Contreras' mother played softball for the Dominican national team.

Other additions: catcher Gabriel Brito ($200,000 bonus), 16, of the Dominican Republic; left-hander Domingo Robles ($175,000), 16, of the Dominican Republic; right-hander Brian Sousa ($160,000), 16, of Panama; shortstop Christopher Perez ($150,000), 16, of the Dominican Republic; Adonis Pichardo ($105,000), 18, of the Dominican Republic; and left-hander Roger Santana ($100,000), 16, of the Dominican Republic.

None of those players are among this year's top 30 international players as rated by Baseball America.

The Pirates have $640,400 left to spend before reaching their MLB-mandated bonus pool cap of $1,930,400.

Polanco good for business

According to ticket reseller TiqIQ, the price of Pirates tickets on the secondary market has risen 4.22 percent since outfielder Gregory Polanco made his big league debut.

Before Polanco was called up June 10, the average cost of a Pirates ticket was $64.44. The current average price is $67.16.

The average price in MLB is about $80.

Tribute to Gehrig

Ike Davis is among 30 MLB first basemen who helped create a video tribute for the 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig's “Luckiest Man” speech.

Gehrig was forced to retire after being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). On July 4, 1939, at Yankee Stadium, Gehrig thanked the fans and said he felt like he was “the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

In the tribute video, Davis and other players recite lines from Gehrig's speech. It will be played at PNC Park and other big league parks before Friday's games.

“Every baseball player knows at least a little about Lou Gehrig,” Davis said. “He holds a special spot in baseball. He was one of the greatest.”

Minor matters

Indianapolis left-hander Andy Oliver, right-hander Casey Sadler, infielder Matt Hague and outfielder Chris Dickerson were named to the International League all-star team. The game will be played July 16 in Durham, N.C. ... Indianapolis put right-hander Jack Brigham on the disabled list due to shoulder fatigue. Brigham, 26, was signed as a minor league free agent in November. ... Double-A Altoona will give out Pedro Alvarez bobbleheads at Saturday's game. Alvarez played in only 60 games for the Curve in 2009 but was named team MVP after batting .333 with 13 homers and 40 RBIs.

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 talks with closer Mark Melancon in the dugout before the start of the game against the Diamondbacks Thursday, July 3, 2014, at PNC Park. Liriano will pitch a rehab start at Triple-A Indianapolis before returning to the rotation.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano talks with closer Mark Melancon in the dugout before the start of the game against the Diamondbacks Thursday, July 3, 2014, at PNC Park. Liriano will pitch a rehab start at Triple-A Indianapolis before returning to the rotation.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano delivers to the plate during the first inning against the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday, June 10, 2014, at PNC Park. Liriano is on track to come off the disabled list after the All-Star break.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Christopher Horner  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano delivers to the plate during the first inning against the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday, June 10, 2014, at PNC Park. Liriano is on track to come off the disabled list after the All-Star break.
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