Francisco Liriano made what could be his final rehabilitation start Sunday as he prepares to join the Pirates for the first time this weekend.
Liriano started for Class AAA Indianapolis and threw 98 pitches in five innings, allowing four runs on seven hits. He gave up one home run, walked one and struck out six.
Liriano is on track to start Saturday against the Mets in New York, which because of a scheduled day off today is the next time the Pirates need a fifth starter. A broken right humerus (upper arm) sustained in the winter kept him from participating fully in spring training.
"You're looking to get the guy built up," general manager Neal Huntington said Sunday before Liriano's start. "It's how you condition those guys to take those workloads."
Liriano will take Jonathan Sanchez's spot in the Pirates rotation. He is on the 40-man roster, but the team will have to make a corresponding move this weekend to add him to the active roster. The Pirates hoped Liriano could surpass 90 pitches, which would indicate his readiness to start.
"Eighty pitches at the major league level is very different from 100 pitches at [Class AAA], and that's why we want these guys stretched out," Huntington said.