Bucs optimistic Liriano will pitch Opening Day

Bucs optimistic Liriano will pitch Opening Day

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Francisco Liriano is still day to day with a tight left groin muscle. With the start of the regular season one week away, the Pirates will soon have to decide whether to change Liriano's status to Opening Day-to-Opening Day.

The Bucs have pretty much decided to scratch Liriano's final scheduled Grapefruit League start, which would have come Tuesday. If able, he instead will pitch in a camp game at Pirate City.

"We want to control the environment, so he may not pitch another 'A' game before we break from Spring Training," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. "He's not 100 percent, but it's not a major concern for us at this point in time. We feel good about where he is, just being overly cautious."

Liriano has been getting treatment since leaving Thursday night's game after 5 2/3 innings, when the tightness began to affect his delivery. He has been anxious to return to the mound, asking of pitching coach Ray Searage every time they pass each other, "Throw side today?"

"And I keep saying, 'No, no. Not until I hear from out medical people,'" Searage said, grinning. "I've got to protect Francisco from Francisco. I'm still taking it one day at a time."

No. 2 starter Charlie Morton, who stretched out to seven innings and 97 pitches in a Minor League game on Saturday, has not been told to stand by in case the Opening Day assignment falls on him.

"I hope it doesn't come to that," Morton said of an injury costing Liriano Opening Day honors. "But someone will have to take the ball."

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.