Now Commenting On:

{"event":["spring_training" ] }

Liriano already looking forward to opener

Liriano already looking forward to opener play video for Liriano already looking forward to opener

BRADENTON, Fla. -- When Francisco Liriano scales the PNC Park mound on March 31 to face the Chicago Cubs, it will not be the first Opening Day assignment of his career.

However, it will be the first as his team's Plan A. Liriano pitched the Minnesota Twins' 2009 inaugural when "Scott Baker was supposed to be the Opening Day starter," Liriano recalled, "but he got hurt like 10 days before the season started, so they told me like a week before."

The left-hander got a little more heads up this time, getting the word from manager Clint Hurdle nine days before the Grapefruit League starts. Hurdle made the announcement during the team meeting prior to Tuesday's first full-squad workout.

"No booing, not at all," Liriano said with a grin. "I was kinda shy about it, and it was a little embarrassing. But a good feeling at the same time. Guys congratulated me.

"I'm very happy for the opportunity, and excited. I can't wait. I look forward to it, and try to do the same thing I did last year. Thank God for a second chance. Things work out for a reason, and I'm still here, happy to be here."

Liriano referred to his chaotic 2012-13 offseason, when a more lucrative contract with the Pirates was voided by the household accident in which he fractured his non-pitching arm. He signed a revised deal after extensive renegotiations, then spent all of Spring Training rehabbing and did not make his first start until May 11. He went on to post a 16-8 record, earn the National League Comeback Player of the Year Award and vest his 2014 contract at $8 million.

"I had a tough Spring Training last year after being hurt," Liriano said, "so it's neat to be healthy and to know exactly when I will start. I'm ready to go, and it's a great feeling."

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.

{"event":["spring_training" ] }
{"event":["spring_training" ] }
Boys and Girls Club of America

©2014 MLBAM, LP. All rights reserved.

The following are trademarks or service marks of Major League Baseball entities and may be used only with permission of Major League Baseball Properties, Inc. or the relevant Major League Baseball entity: Major League, Major League Baseball, MLB, the silhouetted batter logo, World Series, National League, American League, Division Series, League Championship Series, All-Star Game, and the names, nicknames, logos, uniform designs, color combinations, and slogans designating the Major League Baseball clubs and entities, and their respective mascots, events and exhibitions. Use of the Website signifies your agreement to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy (updated May 24, 2013).

View MLB.com in English | En Español