Francisco Liriano cleared to begin rehab assignment

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On the disabled list with a strained oblique muscle, Pirates left-hander Francisco Liriano has been cleared to begin a minor-league rehab assignment.

Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports that Liriano will make his first rehab start Monday at Triple-A and is scheduled for five innings and/or 85 pitches, which suggests the Pirates are planning to bring him back pretty quickly if things go well.

Liriano struggled before the injury, following up his Comeback Player of the Year-winning 2013 campaign by going 1-6 with a 4.60 ERA through 14 starts, but his strikeout rate is actually higher than last season’s mark.

Report: Mets showing interest in Bartolo Colon

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Last month, free agent right-hander Bartolo Colon told reporters that he’d be open to taking a minor league deal in 2018, but only if he was guaranteed a return to the Mets’ system. The 44-year-old starter is nearing the end of a 20-year career, and it makes sense that he’d want to have one last hurrah in the city where he had some of his most productive years.

Now, Twins starter Ervin Santana tells Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press, it looks like the Mets might also be open to a reunion. It’s doubtful that Colon has all that much left in the tank, especially following a combined 7-14 record and 6.48 ERA for the Braves and Twins last year, but he’s not necessarily looking to reproduce the 15+ win, sub-4.00 ERA totals of years past.

Instead, Santana says, Colon is seeking the opportunity to win just six more games. He’ll enter the 2018 season five wins shy of the all-time record for a Latin American-born player, and is hoping to claim that title for himself before he enters retirement in 2019. Former Orioles and Expos hurler Dennis Martinez currently holds the record after clinching his 245th win back in 1998. While it took Colon a full season of starts to come up with even seven wins in 2017, he’s only one year removed from a 15-win campaign in 2016. Provided that the Mets are willing to gamble on him again, the milestone may not be that far out of reach.