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Pirates notebook: Volquez, Morton struggle

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By Travis Sawchik and Rob Biertempfel
Sunday, March 9, 2014, 8:18 p.m.

SARASOTA, Fla. — In spring training, pitchers typically depart for the clubhouse soon after they are removed from a game. But on Sunday, Edinson Volquez remained in the dugout for nearly an hour after his start. He was visibly upset, his head hanging. Ray Searage walked over to offer a few words, and finding the right words to help fix Volquez might be Searage's greatest test to date as a pitching coach.

The erratic but talented Volquez is the Pirates' latest pitching reclamation project. And it appears to be quite a project as Volquez struggled again in his third spring training outing Sunday at the Orioles.

In the first inning, Baltimore star Chris Davis sent a Volquez fastball about 400 feet over the left-center wall at Ed Smith Stadium. In the third inning, Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy smashed a Volquez curveball for a three-run homer to give the Orioles a 6-0 lead. The home run knocked Volquez from the game.

Volquez allowed seven hits, six runs — five earned — and struck out three over 2 23 innings. Volquez has a 14.28 ERA and 2.3 WHIP this spring. He left the clubhouse before speaking to reporters.

Tony Sanchez caught Volquez and said the results did not match his stuff.

“Unfortunately that is the first time I ever caught him,” Sanchez said.

“He and I were not on the same page. A lot of shakes. A lot of time between pitches. I could see he was uncomfortable throwing to me.

“His stuff was really good. ... Hardy hit a two-strike curveball. I told him I didn't know how he did it because it was a really good curveball. I asked him, ‘Were you sitting on that?' (Hardy said) ‘Kind of.' I said, ‘Well, even better because that was a really good curveball.' Davis is just a monster.”

A common issue throughout the years for Volquez has been fastball command, and he again struggled to locate the pitch — thrown between 91-94 mph — at times Sunday. After allowing the homer to Davis, Volquez fell behind the following five batters. Searage has been working with Volquez on creating a more efficient line in his delivery to home plate.

Morton flounders

Charlie Morton's third outing of the spring Sunday against the Red Sox had some turbulence. He yielded three runs (one earned) on five hits, walked one and struck out one.

“It was just bad,” Morton said. “I was falling behind hitters. When I was ahead of hitters, everything turned out OK. The problem is, I didn't get ahead of many hitters.”

In the third inning, Morton served up a solo homer to Mike Carp.

“A sinker,” Morton said. “I was working him in, in his first at-bat. He stayed in, I threw one and he was sitting on it, dead red. And I missed; the ball didn't really do anything. He put a good swing on it.”

He said it

Tony Sanchez on beginning the season at Triple-A: “I'm not going to let it affect me. Who am I to complain about not having a backup job in the big leagues? I haven't proven anything yet.”

Around the horn

Left-hander Jeff Locke (tight oblique) hoped to throw off a mound this past weekend, but it has not happened yet. Locke is able to throw soft-toss and perform other workouts. ... Manager Clint Hurdle said the pitchers might begin to hit as soon as Wednesday. ... Mark Melancon was named to the advisory council for the Taylor Hooton Foundation, which educates young athletes about the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs.

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



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