PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- In Spring Training, matters are programmed pretty strictly -- when pitchers work, how long they work. Francisco Liriano's program on Saturday had a bug: The Pirates scored six runs in the top of the first, and the 25 minutes that took essentially wiped out Liriano's pregame warmup in the bullpen.
"I was trying to stay loose in the dugout, moving around and trying to stretch," said Liriano, who could also be seen peppering the dugout steps with a ball while the Bucs batted around against Rays lefty Matt Moore. "But it's hard to stay loose, especially when it's a little cold."
Soon after finally being able to take the mound, Liriano gave up a booming triple to Tampa Bay leadoff batter Logan Forsythe. But don't get the idea Liriano had a disastrous outing -- the run Forsythe scored on a sacrifice fly was the only one the lefty allowed in three innings, in which he walked one and struck out three.
But this is how good Pittsburgh's starting pitching has been early in the Grapefruit League: Liriano's effort was the worst of the week, as the Bucs' Opening Day starter was the first to allow any scoring in seven games.
"I'm right where I want to be," said Liriano, who focused his third spring start on "getting ahead with the fastball, trying to throw first-pitch strikes."
"What I'm working on right now is getting a better feeling for my fastball, being more consistent with it, repeating my delivery. I'll just continue working, getting myself ready for Opening Day."
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.Less