PITTSBURGH -- Francisco Liriano had a rough time in his latest rehab start, falling well short of the four innings he'd been scheduled to go with Double-A Altoona on Saturday night. The lefty, recovering from his right arm fracture, could make it through only 2 2/3 innings before reaching his limit of 67 pitches.
Manager Clint Hurdle was no more concerned about that outing -- which included four runs on four hits and three walks -- than he'd been impressed by Liriano's previous start, in which he'd pitched three perfect innings for Bradenton.
"I really don't care a whole lot [about results]. He just needs to be on the mound and get over any anxieties," said Hurdle, who thinks the veteran may have been over-amped by nearing the end of the finish line of his rehab. "He did more throwing than pitching. His challenge is to keep in mind the task at hand, not the line two weeks down the road. He probably got caught up a little bit in that."
Even in the Majors, following an outstanding start with a shaky one has been the 29-year-old southpaw's M.O. And Hurdle thinks his outstanding stuff, capable of overwhelming batters, may be partly to blame.
"When a guy has that kind of stuff -- any time out there, he can throw a no-hitter -- his competitive nature can sometimes overwhelm [him]," Hurdle theorized. "He gets caught up in the swing-and-miss, with putting people down instead of just getting them out."
Liriano's rehab assignment figures to include two more starts before the Pirates activate and plug him into their rotation.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.