The Pittsburgh Pirates brought in a former veteran on a minor league contract. He has done well so far in his limited spring appearances.
When the Pittsburgh Pirates brought back former number one pitcher Francisco Liriano, many expected him to pitch out of the bullpen. The Pittsburgh Pirates said that they were going to give him a chance to start and he potentially could earn the fifth starter’s spot. However, it seemed more realistic that he would be a bullpen pitcher if he made the team out of spring.
So far, that is exactly how it seems, with the Pittsburgh Pirates using Liriano in multiple one inning appearances during the middle of the games. The big left-hander has thrown two innings so far, both in relief. He has not given up a run and has struck out one hitter thus far. While it is a small sample, it is revealing how they are using him thus far.
Liriano had some thoughts on his spring training and how it feels to be on a minor league contract this year. He shared his thoughts with Adam Berry of MLB.com:
"“It feels a little bit weird, knowing I have to make the team and stuff like that. But I’m just happy to be back and see the guys and coaches that I was with before”"
This is a different situation for a player that has stuck around the majors for 13 seasons and has earned over $60 million in his career. Now, he has to pitch his way onto the roster. It is a unique situation, but he seems to be embracing the opportunity after a couple of rough years since being traded away from the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Liriano also discussed how he is always learning and trying to get better. He mentions that part of his new mentality when pitching in the bullpen is to be aggressive from the first batter on.
"“Just go out there and attack the hitter, give everything I have from the first hitter that I see,” Liriano said."
All in all, it has been a good first couple of innings for Frankie. He very much should be in the driver’s seat for the Pittsburgh Pirates left-handed relief role to the start the year. It helps that there is not really any other lefties in competition other than Steven Brault. Brault has yet to really prove his ability to be an effective lefty out of the bullpen, so, Liriano very well should be in the driver’s seat for the spot.