Liriano's latest effort a step in right direction

Liriano's latest effort a step in right direction

BRADENTON, Fla. -- In his first start of the spring, Francisco Liriano had been mainly concerned with getting a feel for his fastball and getting it over the plate.

Not surprisingly, the New York Yankees hit enough of them hard enough to score two runs in his only inning last Wednesday.

On Monday, it was time for Liriano to do some pitching. Ergo, he set down the World Series champion Red Sox without a hit for the first two innings of the Bucs' 7-6 win. He walked one and struck out three, doing it all efficiently enough to head to the bullpen afterward to add 10 pitches to the 25 he had thrown in the game.

"I still worked on my mechanics and the pitches I needed to work on, but I competed at the same time," Liriano said. "It is a game, even if it's only Spring Training.

"I felt a lot better today. Everything is going the way I want it to go. The goal is try to get better with every outing, and get ready for the season."

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle could tell his Opening Day starter was getting to a different level.

"Frankie had good rhythm, command, velocity ... all of it was sharp," Hurdle said.

Tom Singer is a reporter for 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.