ShareThis Page
Pirates notebook: Injury forces Liriano from start |

Pirates notebook: Injury forces Liriano from start

Rob Biertempfel
| Thursday, March 20, 2014 10:00 p.m
Pirates starting pitcher Francisco Liriano throws was injured during Thursday's spring training game against the Baltimore Orioles in Bradenton, Fla.

BRADENTON, Fla. — Something about Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano didn’t look right to catcher Russell Martin.

When Liriano landed awkwardly after throwing a pitch to Baltimore’s Adam Jones in the sixth inning, Martin went out to the mound.

“I didn’t know what, but I could tell something was wrong,” Martin said.

The athletic trainer went onto the field, too. That’s when Liriano said his groin had felt tight the whole game and maybe he ought to leave.

“I didn’t want to keep pitching like that, maybe push it too much and have it get worse,” Liriano said.

Liriano limped back to the clubhouse, having tossed 5 23 scoreless innings. He allowed four hits, walked one and struck out four. Liriano still expects to be ready for Opening Day, when he is scheduled to start against the Cubs.

“I think it’s going to be OK,” Liriano said. “We’ll see how I feel tomorrow.”

Scary injury

No pitcher goes out expecting to be struck by a line drive.

“If you’ve got those thoughts in your mind, you’re probably not going to have a successful day out there,” Pirates reliever Justin Wilson said. “There’s enough that goes on in the game that you’ve got to be aware of. Batters get hit at the plate, pitchers get hit on the mound.”

On Wednesday night, Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman was hit in the face by a liner off the bat of Kansas City’s Salvador Perez. Chapman had a steel plate surgically implanted due to a fracture above his left eye and is expected to be out at least two months.

“A horrible injury,” Pirates reliever Tony Watson said. “I feel for the guy.”

Wilson has had a few close calls.

“Nothing up high, though. I usually seem to get out of the way,” Wilson said. “If you’ve been on the mound long enough, you’ve been hit a few times.”

This winter, MLB approved a padded cap for use during games. However, many pitchers say the cap is too bulky.

“I’d have to actually put it on and try to throw with it before I give an honest opinion of what I think of it,” Wilson said.

The Pirates have inquired with manufacturer IsoBlox about the caps and are willing to test them when they become available. The caps are intended to be a safeguard against concussions but probably wouldn’t have done much to protect Chapman, who was hit in the forehead.

Wandy slows it down

When he throws on the side between starts, Wandy Rodriguez will sometimes bring his left arm back very slowly and deliberately before beginning his delivery. He uses a less exaggerated motion in games.

It’s a reminder Rodriguez uses to break a bad habit.

“When I bring my arm back fast, I lose a lot of my control,” Rodriguez said. “When I go slowly, I have better location and I think I throw with a little bit more velocity. I throw more aggressively to home plate and attack the zone. I’m able to keep my head still and keep my eyes on where I want to put the ball. I have better concentration.”

Divided loyalties

Reliever Cody Eppley grew up in Harrisburg, a kind of crossroads sports town whose residents have divided loyalties. Eppley always cheered for the Steelers and Penguins, but his favorite baseball team didn’t wear black and gold.

“I was a (Philadelphia) Phillies fan,” Eppley said. “With every other sport, I’m a Pittsburgh fan. The Phillies were always on TV. They didn’t really show the Pirates’ games.”

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

Categories: Pirates
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.