PITTSBURGH -- Francisco Liriano pitched a simulated game on Wednesday for the first time since straining his left oblique on June 10.
The rehabbing lefty pitched a total of four innings, and manager Clint Hurdle said Liriano's next step could be a rehab assignment, but the club will wait to see how he feels on Thursday.
"He's throwing all of his pitches, working out of the windup and the stretch," said Hurdle, who watched three of Liriano's simulated innings. "There's some rust, but there seems to be no complications so far. So it's going well."
The trouble for Liriano -- who also tossed a 54-pitch bullpen session Sunday -- began on one pitch in the fourth inning of a start against the Cubs when he felt a pain in his side and needed to leave the game. The 30-year-old Dominican was a pleasant surprise for the Pirates last season and was the Bucs' Opening Day starter this season, but has struggled to the tune of a 4.60 ERA, 1.45 WHIP and 1-6 record in 14 outings.
Liriano was the second Pirate pitcher to be sent to the disabled list last month, joining right-hander Gerrit Cole. After missing two and a half weeks with a fatigued right shoulder, Cole returned to action last Saturday against the Mets with three simulated games, but no Minor League tuneups as part of his rehab. Cole was hit hard in his comeback, giving up seven hits and tying a career worst with five earned runs in just four innings.
Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less