If Liriano returns to full strength, Bucs' rotation is set

If Liriano returns to full strength, Bucs' rotation is set

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has set his rotation through the first week of the regular season, but it comes with one major "if."

If left-hander Francisco Liriano is well enough and recovered from a tight left groin muscle to do Opening Day honors against the Cubs, this is how the Bucs will spin through the first homestand of the season:

• March 31: Liriano vs. Cubs
• April 2: Charlie Morton vs. Cubs
• April 3: Wandy Rodriguez vs. Cubs
• April 4: Gerrit Cole vs. Cardinals
• April 5: Liriano vs. Cardinals
• April 6: Edinson Volquez vs. Cardinals.

It all depends on Liriano, who is due to put the groin muscle through an intense test on Wednesday, either in a Minor League game in Pirate City or a simulated game at McKechnie Field.

"We'll have everything cleared up after that," said Hurdle, who would like to see Liriano approach 100 pitches.

The lefty had thrown 76 pitches against the Orioles on Thursday night, before leaving the mound when the tightness began to affect his delivery.

"We'll have him in a controlled situation early [Wednesday] to get in the flow," Hurdle said, "then have hitters up there, so whatever can happen in a game, he's gotta move, do those things."

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.