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Liriano to make Pirates debut on Saturday

Liriano to make Pirates debut on Saturday

PITTSBURGH -- Francisco Liriano checked into the Pirates' clubhouse Tuesday afternoon, riding one of his best five-start stretches in recent years.

Now he just hopes he can transition the ride from the Minor Leagues to the Majors, from rehab starts to meaningful starts.

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"I'm very happy with the way everything is going, and I'm happy to be here, to get another chance to compete," Liriano said.

While regaining competitive shape from a Christmas-time fracture of his right arm, the left-hander gradually moved up the Bucs' Minor League chain, Class A through Triple-A. In those five starts and 21 2/3 innings, he fashioned a 2-1 record and 4.15 ERA.

Most impressively, he had 33 strikeouts to four walks. Eye-catching, for someone who totaled 162 walks the last two seasons in 291 innings.

Crediting the new, overhand delivery he has adopted, Liriano said, "My command with the fastball was very good. Last year, I had trouble locating my fastball. Now it's a lot better, I'm throwing it in and out."

The healed right arm has become an afterthought when it comes to the required agility to field his position or handle a bat, Liriano said.

"Sometimes I even forget I broke my arm," he said. "It doesn't bother me at all, not sore or anything. It feels very normal, so I'm ready to go."

Liriano is scheduled to make his Pirates debut on Saturday, going in the third game of the four-game series with the Mets in New York.

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.

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