3/3/2014 7:04 P.M. ET
Liriano's latest effort a step in right direction
By Tom Singer / MLB.com
BRADENTON, Fla. -- In his first start of the spring, Francisco Liriano had been mainly concerned with getting a feel for his fastball and getting it over the plate.
Not surprisingly, the New York Yankees hit enough of them hard enough to score two runs in his only inning last Wednesday.
On Monday, it was time for Liriano to do some pitching. Ergo, he set down the World Series champion Red Sox without a hit for the first two innings of the Bucs' 7-6 win. He walked one and struck out three, doing it all efficiently enough to head to the bullpen afterward to add 10 pitches to the 25 he had thrown in the game.
"I still worked on my mechanics and the pitches I needed to work on, but I competed at the same time," Liriano said. "It is a game, even if it's only Spring Training.
"I felt a lot better today. Everything is going the way I want it to go. The goal is try to get better with every outing, and get ready for the season."
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle could tell his Opening Day starter was getting to a different level.
"Frankie had good rhythm, command, velocity ... all of it was sharp," Hurdle said.
Constructive critique helping Lambo thrive at first
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Andrew Lambo continues to play an impressive first base for an outfielder. And why shouldn't he, said his manager, who is unwilling to give Lambo a pass for the slightest indiscretion.
"He's played first base before. That's what a lot of people seem to lose sight of," Clint Hurdle said. "The move, the feel for the bag, the footwork ... it's just a matter now of getting game-speed repetitions."
Lambo's latest moment of note came in the third inning of the Bucs' 7-6 victory over Boston on Monday: With a man on first and none out, former Pirates infielder Brock Holt ripped a hard grounder to Lambo, who whipped the throw to second to force the runner -- then appeared to show impressive instincts by being right in the spot shortstop Clint Barmes' errant relay throw ended up.
Hold the praise, said Hurdle, pointing out that Lambo's own feed to second had caused Barmes' wide return.
"A firmer throw to second might get a return throw for the double play," Hurdle said. "He could've finished the throw more effectively to second to set up the return throw."
Lambo did not disagree, saying he was in the flight path of the wild relay because he could see his own toss leading Barmes across the second-base bag.
• Given the reports that the Pirates have been one of the teams scouting Mike Carp, the left-handed hitter's eighth-inning two-run homer off Bryan Morris raised some eyebrows around McKechnie Field.
The reality is the Pirates' early impression of Chris McGuiness is far too good for them to make a quick move for anyone else.
• Edinson Volquez will make his first start in his next appearance, Sunday against the Orioles in Sarasota, Fla.
• Mark Melancon, in his first Grapefruit League appearance, and Jared Hughes, nailing down the save, both had a perfect inning with a strikeout.
• The Pirates' Minor League camp officially opens at Pirate City on Tuesday.
• Gaby Sanchez did some morning hitting in the cage and said his right knee felt fine. He had banged it up landing on it sliding into third Friday in Dunedin against the Blue Jays.
• Chase d'Arnaud is back in camp, though now on an invite after being outrighted to Triple-A Indianapolis once he passed through waivers.
"I'm still in a good place. It was just a paper move," said d'Arnaud, who had been designated for assignment on Feb. 24 to clear roster room for Brent Morel. "I'm still playing baseball, and I'm healthy."
• Dr. Kevin Elko, a native Pennsylvanian motivational speaker better known for his presentations to football teams, both NFL and college, addressed Pirates players and staff prior to Monday's workouts.
First number, last word
3: Runs batted in by Pedro Alvarez in the first three innings on Monday, matching the total of RBIs he had through March 22 last spring.
"We've already told him he will be going to Indianapolis. He knows where he is and knows what he needs to continue to work on. We're looking to him to be our frontline guy in the not-too-distant future." -- Hurdle, on plans for catcher Tony Sanchez, short- and long-range.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.