Francisco Liriano hopes to make more good memories pitching for Pirates
BRADENTON, Fla. – Francisco Liriano never imagined he would return to the Pittsburgh Pirates after they dealt him and two prospects to Toronto at the 2016 trade deadline in a salary dump.
“To be honest, no,” Liriano said, “but … baseball is crazy.”
Liriano signed a minor-league contract with the Pirates and reported Monday to Pirate City hoping to make the team out of spring training, despite not knowing whether his role will be as a starter or reliever.
The 35-year-old left-hander has a resume featuring a no-hitter with Minnesota and a World Series ring with Houston, but earning the win in a 6-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in the 2013 NL wild-card game at PNC Park remains one of the fondest memories of his 13-year career.
“To be honest, that’s one of the best games I remember,” Liriano said. “I have a lot of good memories in Pittsburgh. Hopefully, it will continue this year, too. Hopefully, we can make the playoffs. You never know. You’ve got to go out there and play and give it everything you have.”
Liriano was 41-36, with a 3.67 ERA in 107 starts between 2013 and ’16 for the Pirates, going 16-8 with a 3.02 ERA in ’13, before being dealt at the trade deadline in 2016. He has since pitched for the Blue Jays, Astros, Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox, both as a starter and out of the bullpen.
Liriano could compete with Brandon Lyles, Nick Kingham and Steven Brault for the fifth spot in the starting rotation or be used in the bullpen, but said the Pirates haven’t talked about using him as an opener.
“I think I can do both, as far as spring training,” Liriano said. “We’ll see how they want me to pitch and talk to them. I’m willing to do both, whatever it takes.”
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kevin at [email protected] or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.