Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons has confirmed that left-hander Francisco Liriano, who suffered a mild concussion after taking a line drive off the back of his head last week, is available out of the bullpen Saturday for Game 2 of the ALCS against the Cleveland Indians.
Taken to a Texas hospital after getting drilled by a Carlos Gomez liner in Game 2 of the American League Division Series, Liriano was symptom-free four days later, assuring reporters Tuesday that "everything's back to normal." After showing no ill effects during a bullpen session Thursday, the veteran left-hander - who had been replaced on Toronto's ALDS roster by Danny Barnes - was included on their 25-man roster for the championship series, giving Gibbons a seven-man bullpen for the best-of-seven showdown.
"We battled that, if we wanted that extra guy," Gibbons told MLB.com's Gregor Chisolm when asked about going with a seven-man bullpen instead of eight. "I think that's where Liriano can be very important. Even with Liriano, he's feeling great and everything like that, but it was a week ago that he got hit in the head, and you don't know if there's any psychological effects of that. We don't think there will be, hopefully there's not. But he becomes very valuable to us."
Acquired by the Blue Jays from the Pittsburgh Pirates ahead of the non-waiver trade deadline, Liriano fashioned a 2.92 ERA with a 1.18 WHIP in eight starts and two relief appearances down the stretch with Toronto, and tossed 1 2/3 perfect innings in the AL wild-card game before allowing two runs in 1/3 of an inning in Game 2 of the ALDS.