Francisco Liriano dominates in first (and last?) rehab start

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Francisco Liriano’s first minor-league rehab start may end up being his last minor-league rehab start, because the Pirates left-hander was dominant last night at Triple-A.

Facing the Phillies’ affiliate–and a lineup that included former big leaguers Grady Sizemore, Darin Ruf, and Russ Canzler–he tossed six shutout innings with eight strikeouts, zero walks, and three hits.

Liriano needed just 76 pitches to record 18 outs and threw 70 percent of them for strikes, retiring the final 15 batters he faced in his first game action since being shut down with an oblique strain on June 10.

It’s possible that the Pirates will ask him to make one more start at Triple-A just to be safe, but Liriano certainly seems ready to rejoin the rotation and there’s an opening now with Gerrit Cole going back on the disabled list.

Yadier Molina responds to Willson Contreras on Instagram

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On Monday, Cubs catcher Willson Contreras showed he was very confident heading into the 2018 season, saying, “I know that I’m going to be better than [Yadier Molina and Buster Posey].” Contreras explained that his goal is to become “the best catcher in the game for a long time — like it was with Yadier Molina, like it is with Buster Posey.”

Apparently, Contreras ruffled Molina’s feathers as the Cardinals’ veteran backstop took to Instagram to respond. Posting a picture of himself with Buster Posey and Salvador Perez, Molina wrote, “Respeten los rangos NOVATOS!! aqui con los q si han probao que son los duros!!” That loosely translates to “respect the ranks,” referring to Contreras as a novice.

Molina is no stranger to using Instagram to air his grievances. He apparently used the social media app to take a swipe or two at manager Mike Matheny last year.

Of course, Molina seems to be misreading the intent of Contreras. Contreras seems to think highly of Molina, having referred to him as being one of the best catchers in the game — even if it was in the past tense. Molina should know, being someone who also competes at the highest level, that having confidence is an important part of the recipe for success. Perhaps this will make for some interesting games during the season, breathing new life into the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry.