Were the Pirates Motivated to Move Liriano Due to a Spat with Searage?

“If you can’t play for John Gibbons, you can’t play for anybody.” I vividly remember that quote from J.P. Ricciardi in relation to the spat between Shea Hillenbrand and John Gibbons. Hillenbrand was subsequently released after his dust-up with the Blue Jays’ manager.

Why do I bring this up? Because the Pirates may have had a similar situation in Pittsburgh with Francisco Liriano and Pirates’ pitching coach Ray Searage.

After yesterday’s trade deadline shocker, many from the Pirates’ side were left wondering why the organization gave up on Liriano. It turns out the Pittsburgh Pirates may have been at their wit’s end with Liriano and were motivated to move him.


Just over a month ago, John Perrotto of Today’s Knuckleball divulged a few details about a spat between Francisco Liriano and Ray Searage.

“The normally mild-mannered Searage became so frustrated during one of the bullpen sessions that he got into Liriano’s face then stormed back to the clubhouse. It was reminiscent of the days when Liriano pitched for the Minnesota Twins from 2005-12 and continually frustrated manager Ron Gardenhire.

Liriano tends to move from one side of the pitching rubber to the other on the mound during the course of a game. The Pirates have asked him to pick one side or the other and remain consistent with it but he refuses.”

Interestingly enough, this morning Searage himself spoke to 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh about what may have gone wrong with Liriano, but didn’t address the reported spat with his former starter.

“Frankie has always cared about what he did out there on the mound, and it just happened to snowball that, every time he went out there, he’d try to make up for the previous outing, or the previous inning, and things just got a little bit deeper and deeper for him. The more he tried to get out of it, the more adverse results happened.”

I’m not saying a simple disagreement between Liriano and Searage was the sole motivation behind the trade; but perhaps it was merely the incident which got the ball rolling for the Pirates to find Liriano a new home. To me, Liriano’s defiance and unwillingness to take advice from his manager or pitching coach really sound like the red flags.

Searage sounded like a coach who was at the end of his rope with a pitcher. If in fact the Pirates preached consistency to Francisco Liriano and he wasn’t listening, it almost becomes a toxic situation for everyone involved.

They say that a good quality for a pitcher is to have a short memory. However, it sounds like every bad start left Francisco Liriano reeling further and further; to a point where even the pitching doctor himself felt like he couldn’t fix Liriano again.

However, reuniting Francisco Liriano with Russell Martin – Liriano’s former battery mate in Pittsburgh – could be the elixir Liriano needs to turn his season around with the Blue Jays.

Image via Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.