Kang at Short as Pirates lose to Tampa

Liriano with potentially last outing as Pirate

Jeff Hathhorn
March 22, 2019 - 4:59 pm

93.7 the Fan

PORT CHARLOTTE, FL (93.7 the Fan) – Jung-Ho Kang had a pair of hits and seemingly no issues at in his first time at shortstop this year as Tampa Bay ended the Bucs five game spring winning streak 3-2 Friday afternoon.

Kang got his first single of the spring and followed it up by nearly hitting his 7th home run.  He ended up with a double off the top of the right-centerfield wall.  Kang said, through his translator, of playing short, where he ended with an assist and a couple of putouts.

“It was a long time not playing shortstop.  I wasn’t used to it, but as the innings went on, I got used to it.”

Kang said he talked to manager Clint Hurdle and would be able to play in a game there if needed.  However Kang prefers to play third base.

Liriano Gives Up a Run

Francisco Liriano gave up a run in an inning and two-thirds as his spring ERA is now 4.66.  It was eventful five outs as Liriano gave up three hits, three walks while striking out three.

“I want him to be emotional, but I don’t want him to pitch that way where things are flying out and he’s trying to enhance a pitch here, enhance a pitch there,” said pitching coach Ray Searage.  “Before you know it he digs himself a big hole.”

“When the bases were loaded, if you noticed, his back was against the wall,” Searage added.  “He went out there and made pitches.  Maybe I should tell him to think the bases are loaded all the time and go after these guys.  It’s a frame of mind.  He wants so badly to make this club.  All he has to is just pitch and do his thing and he will be fine.”

Liriano said he believes his stuff is still good, he’s working on fastball control as it’s the first time in a dozen years he’s had to have results in spring to make a team.  Liriano said he was told the Pirates would make a decision about him on Saturday and he would not pitch for the Bucs in the minor-leagues.

“That happens to veterans and I’ve been in those shoes where you are not set in a spot and you have to go pitch,” Searage said.  “Every time something happens you are going to try and do this and try and do that.  Just trust your stuff.”

Other Notes

Playing centerfield and trying to make the Pirates as a super utility player, Pablo Reyes went 2 for 4 with a RBI, raising his Grapefruit League average to .311.

Filling in for Jacob Stallings, catcher Steve Baron drove in the other run.  Stallings said he just had a crick in his neck from Wednesday and will be fine.  With Elias Diaz starting the season rehabbing, Stallings is the Pirates back-up catcher.

A possibility to be the fifth starter, Jordan Lyles starts for a split-squad Pirates team hosting the Phillies Saturday with the top four in the bullpen, Richard Rodriguez, Kyle Crick, Keone Kela and Felipe Vazquez, also scheduled to pitch.

The other Pirates team will play in Fort Myers against Boston with Jameson Taillon starting and bullpen hopefuls Tyler Lyons and Rookie Davis making that trip.

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