Liriano happy to be healthy after strong spring

Liriano happy to be healthy after strong spring

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Francisco Liriano came within two outs of a flawless spring. As far as the Pirates' Opening Day starter is concerned, however, his preseason remained perfect.

With one out in his third and final inning of Wednesday night's game, Liriano surrendered a solo home run to the Orioles' Everth Cabrera -- the only run off the left-hander in 12 Grapefruit League innings.

However, Liriano is about to go north fully healthy for the first time as a Pirate.

"That feels great. I'm going to do everything I can to stay healthy," Liriano said after going three innings in his final tuneup.

In 2013, Liriano visited Pittsburgh for Opening Day with a recovering fractured right arm, still six weeks away from pitching. In 2014, he broke camp with a tender groin muscle.

Liriano's next sighting will be in Cincinnati on April 6, when he will face the Reds and Johnny Cueto on regular rest.

"I'm ready to go," said Liriano. "I'll do my usual work the next four days, then be ready for Opening Day. Everything feels great. I can't wait. Everything has been good so far."

Except for being surprised by Cabrera, by no means a power hitter (12 home runs in 1,733 career at-bats), Liriano was again impressive.

"It was more of what we've seen all spring," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He has his command. He had one three-ball count."

Touching all the bases

• First: Andrew McCutchen was removed from the game as a precaution after he slipped atop home plate after hitting an inning-ending grounder in the eighth. "We didn't need to push it," Hurdle said.

• Second: Gerrit Cole, who blanked the O's on one hit for three innings, will start the season's second game, on April 8 vs. the Reds, on six days' rest. He will throw bullpen sessions both in Philadelphia and Cincinnati.

• Third: Arquimedes Caminero's spring has consisted of eight scoreless outings and two others in which he gave up runs -- both against the Orioles in Ed Smith Stadium.

• Home: The Bucs' record fourth exhibition tie was their first on the road, where they are an MLB-best 10-3-1, with three to go: Thursday in Tampa against the Yankees and Friday-Saturday in Philadelphia.

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.