At this point, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle doesn't believe that Francisco Liriano's performance in his rehabilitation starts is important. What's important, Hurdle said, is that he continues to pitch.
"I really don't care a whole lot right now," Hurdle said after Liriano allowed four runs on four hits and three walks Saturday night for Class AA Altoona, needing 67 pitches to finish 22/3 innings. "I wasn't overly impressed with six punch-outs in three innings in the Florida State League, nor am I concerned about the outing [Saturday]. He needs to get on the mound and get through the emotions, the anxiety."
Liriano has until May 14, 30 days after he began his minor league rehabilitation assignment, to work his way back, but Hurdle has indicated the team may activate him sooner. Liriano, a left-hander who broke the humerus in his right arm this winter, will make another rehabilitation start Thursday.
Jose Contreras, who had Tommy John ligament replacement surgery in the summer, is also on his way back, but because he is a reliever he won't need as much time for his rehabilitation.
"It's a much shorter track than the starter's track because you're not trying to build them to 105 or 90 pitches, at least," general manager Neal Huntington said. "Jose's moving along very well. He's ahead of schedule of Charlie [Morton], who had Tommy John earlier than Jose had it."
Morton, who started Thursday for Class A Bradenton, will pitch again Tuesday. He could return in mid-May not long after Liriano.
Hurdle received reports on Liriano and Contreras, who pitched again Sunday, from Altoona pitching coach Stan Kyles. Liriano's fastball ranged from 90-94 mph and his slider reached 87. Contreras' fastball hovered between 88-92 mph.