Philadelphia Phillies: The curious journey of Francisco Liriano

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia Phillies are at it again, bringing in a number of veteran players on the cheap, including well-traveled lefthander Francisco Liriano.

The Philadelphia Phillies rocked the baseball world on Wednesday.

Well, not really, they just signed even more veteran players hoping to compete for what could be their last shot at an MLB roster. And the most interesting name of the bunch is left-handed pitcher Francisco Liriano.

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Yes, that Liriano, the 36-year old hurler who has toed the rubber for six different teams during a career that dates back to 2005 and includes a relatively unimpressive no-hitter in 2011, at least as far as no-hitters go.

In a practical sense, though, the signing of Liriano is a low-risk but potentially rewarding move by the Phils. They could utilize him in a bullpen role if he shows enough in spring training, and they might even want to give him a few starts (“opener”, perhaps?) since they lack a southpaw in the rotation.

It’s kind of amazing that Liriano is hanging in there for such a possibility, when you consider that he earned his lone all-star selection way back in 2006.

Just how long ago was that game? Well, it featured numerous players who are now in the Hall of Fame (some for a while), including the pitchers that both blew and converted saves in the ninth inning of that game, Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera.

Liriano didn’t actually pitch in the game, but he had a great view as two future Phillies named Roy, Halladay and Oswalt, were the second pitchers to get into the game for their respective leagues.

Heck, he’s been around so long that you don’t even need six degrees of separation to connect him to Hank Aaron. Aaron homered against Nolan Ryan, who also surrendered a couple of home runs to Ken Griffey Jr., who took Liriano deep in one of his three career at-bats against him.

For the record, I was trying to connect back to Willie Mays, but Mays was 0 for 3 against Ryan. Still, wow.

Even more interesting from a quasi-Phillies perspective is Liriano’s first big league appearance, which came in ninth inning mop-up duty for the Twins on September 5, 2005.

The pitcher who immediately preceded Liriano on the mound for the Twins that day? Future Phillie J.C. Romero. Romero had pitched the eighth inning after the first seven innings were handled that day by…former Phil Carlos Silva.

Once Liriano entered the game to make his MLB debut at the tender age of 21, he was given a rude welcome when he surrendered a home run to the first hitter he ever faced. Gary Matthews Jr. never played for the Phillies, but of course his dad did. And spent some time in the broadcast booth, as well!

Following the leadoff homer, Liriano would settle down to record three straight outs, the last two of which were against future Phillies David Dellucci and Michael Young. All that was missing was a putout in the field by Liriano’s second baseman that day, Nick Punto.

Of course, it stands to reason that you can dig up some random occurrences in any career when it spans the length that Liriano’s has. Still, maybe there were signs at the very beginning that he was meant to eventually don Phillies pinstripes as his final act in the majors.

Finally, Liriano has pitched in 32 MLB ballparks. As a reminder, there are only 30 teams in the league. And while this might not sound that quirky in this era of interleague play and every team eventually playing each other, Liriano has not pitched in as many 100 games in any single one of the 32 stadiums. Just a couple here and a few more there. It’s not quite Edwin Jackson level, but it’s an interesting case. Such is the life of a journeyman.

Next. Phillies: Scott Rolen (eventually) headed to Hall of Fame. dark

It’s a baseball life that may be extended this year for the Phillies. And it’s a good, cheap move for a club that’s still looking for any help it can get with its staff.