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Pirates notebook: Volquez excited about making spring debut

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Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Edinson Volquez throws against the Yankees on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, Fla.

Drive for five

2013 stats for Pirates fifth starter candidates Jeff Locke and Edinson Volquez


Locke 10-7 3.52 166.1 1.38

Volquez 9-12 5.71 170.1 1.59

Note: Volquez stats are combined with the Padres and Dodgers

Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, 5:27 p.m.

BRADENTON, Fla. — Edinson Volquez had butterflies as he made his Pirates debut Wednesday in a 6-5 win against the New York Yankees.

Volquez pitched the second inning and served up Yangervis Solarte's two-out, two-run homer.

“I was a little bit too excited,” Volquez said. “Part of it is, it's the first game. You know, it's the start of a new season, and that's exciting. But I'm also with a new team, and I want to make a good impression. I want to let them know they made a good decision by signing me.”

With a $5 million contract, Volquez will be the third-highest paid member of the starting rotation. If Wandy Rodriguez is healthy — he has looked good so far — Volquez will compete with Jeff Locke for the final rotation spot.

Laying groundwork

After starting last season at Double-A Altoona, right-hander Jameson Taillon was promoted and made six starts at Triple-A Indianapolis. The short stint gave him a taste of what hitters are like at the highest level of the minors.

It also gave Taillon a head start on building a relationship with Indianapolis pitching coach Tom Filer.

“The groundwork has been laid,” Filer said. “In his case, that's really helpful. We all know how big it will be for the organization to move Jameson along to the big leagues.

“He's right on track.”

Filer joined the Pirates' staff in 2010 after spending the previous eight years with the Philadelphia Phillies. He was Altoona's pitching coach in 2010 before being moved to Indy.

Filer is not fazed by being entrusted with the top pitching prospect in the Pirates system.

“I work with guys. I'm used to doing it,” Filer said. “I think there's more pressure on (Taillon) to do things than there is on me. We work as a team. He's grown a lot from last year to this year.”

Although minor league camp is getting underway at Pirate City, Filer is spending extra time in Pirates camp to put in more work with Taillon and the other pitchers.

Around the horn

Manager Clint Hurdle indicated Travis Ishikawa (right leg) will be out at least a couple more days. ... Starling Marte still is using the “oven mitt” he wore last season to protect his hand in case he's hit by a pitch while batting. “Better safe than sorry with him,” Hurdle said. “It doesn't slow him down.” ... Tony Sanchez didn't mind basking in his three-run homer, which came in the seventh inning off non-roster invitee Chase Whitley. “We work too hard not to reap the rewards,” Sanchez said. “Yes, it's still early. But the fact that I've put myself in this position means a lot to me.” ... Attendance on Wednesday was 6,870, a record for a Grapefruit League opener at McKechnie Field. ... McKechnie is one of 20 finalists in the “best spring training facility” category in the 2014 USA Today Reader's Choice Awards. ... The online betting site released its over/under 2014 win totals for NL Central teams: Cardinals 90.5, Reds 84.5, Pirates 83.5, Brewers 79.5 and Cubs 69.5.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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