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Morning Java: Liriano like 2006 … only better?

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

WASHINGTON — Morning, Lunatics …

>> The Thursday column recommends three insider trades the Pirates should be delighted to make. And no, that doesn’t mean I’m opposed to an outside trade. It’s in there.

Here’s some of what Garrett Jones had to say on the topic …

I am interested, as always, in your own thoughts on players who might step up down the stretch.

Here is game coverage by Rob Biertempfel, focusing on Francisco Liriano’s continuing excellence.

If I might expand a bit …


I loved how the first thing out of Clint Hurdle’s mouth afterward was being impressed that Liriano threw 20 of 22 first-pitch strikes. That’s just outrageous and, really, it’s a far cry from the Liriano who had significant walk issues the past … well, for quite a long time, really. And the beauty of it is that Liriano hits that initial spot, then can move all over the strike zone with all of his pitches.

Remember what Tony Watson told me last week about how all of Liriano’s pitches look like “they’re coming at you at exactly the same speed?”

Well, imagine being the hitter with that effect and the location he’s shown.

“He’s just a pro,” Hurdle said. “You’re watching a pro out there.”

Maybe it’s a little more. You know, one thing I recalled reading about Liriano after his breakout 2006 season with the Twins was that his Tommy John surgery would basically cost him his best pitch, the changeup. Saw him in Fort Myers during his comeback, watched hitters take whacks all day off him, and thought how sad it was that he was trying to essentially reinvent himself.

I have to tell you, that changeup he was throwing last night was for legit swings and misses.

So I asked the man the following question …

Uh-huh, he did say that.

Anyway, here are official game highlights with a whole lot of Liriano, from

>> One day until the Steelers report, two until they take the field in Latrobe and — just for fun — 44 until the opener with Tennessee. Alan Robinson looks ahead. (But not that far ahead.)

>> Robert Bortuzzo is retained by the Penguins. Josh Yohe gets reaction. On deck now, apparently: The trade of Matt Niskanen.

>> Bill O’Brien mans the mic at the Big 10 meetings. Scott Brown is in Chicago.

>> Man, Rushel Shell is easier to dislike by the day. Putting off for another day an announcement that he’s obviously going to West Virginia, as if that’s still a big deal as opposed to a transfer?

Paul Chryst will look like a genius out of this.

>> Quality preseason honor for Pitt safety Jason Hendricks.

>> Reminder: The weekly chat has moved to Fridays. That begins this week.

>> I’ll stay here for the series finale today — and the Friday column — then drive back home in plenty of time to see the Steelers’ first practice.

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Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and, recently, his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the country's top four columnists by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the country's top three columnists by the National Headliners. For 2013, he was named the state's top columnist by the Keystone Press Awards and top columnist in Western Pennsylvania by the Golden Quills.

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