Pirates GM says Volquez in Opening Day rotation
CLEARWATER, Fla. — Few guarantees are publicly offered in mid-March, but Pirates general manager Neal Huntington on Sunday all but guaranteed Edinson Volquez will be in the Opening Day rotation despite the right-hander's rough spring performance.
“Barring injury, we see Edinson in our rotation to start the season. We believe in the stuff. We believe we can help him make adjustments,” Huntington said. “I'm not going to say he's a lock, but as we came into spring training, we anticipated he would be in our Opening Day rotation.”
Volquez always has had quality off-speed pitches and premium velocity. But he has struggled, and he continues to struggle with, fastball command. Volquez has a staff-worst 11.00 ERA this spring and has allowed five walks in nine innings. He has a 4.8 walks-per-nine-innings rate for his career.
Francisco Liriano, Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton and Wandy Rodriguez are locked into rotation spots. The Pirates signed Volquez to a one-year, $5 million deal this offseason.
“We've seen some really, really good signs,” Huntington said of Volquez. “The ability to locate a 94 mph fastball down and away from a right-handed hitter. A sharp, biting breaking ball. A changeup with deception and fade in the bottom of the zone. … We've also seen him make mistakes up in the zone.”
Locke's rotation spot in doubt
If Volquez is in the Opening Day rotation, Jeff Locke likely will not be. Locke's spring was put on hold because of an oblique strain. The left-hander said he threw a bullpen session without pain Friday and is scheduled to throw live batting practice Monday.
“I could get stretched out in time. Whether they stretch me out in time is another thing,” Locke said. “As long as everything feels good (Monday) ... I'm ready to go.”
Locke has one option year remaining, which means he could begin the year in Triple-A. Locke also could begin the year on the disabled list.
“Jeff is healthy. Now, we just have to get him built up,” Huntington said. “The clock becomes your enemy. He's a candidate to still make our club.”
Huntington mum on RF derby
Huntington did not offer specifics on who is distinguishing himself in the right field competition, but he hinted there has been some separation. Travis Snider entered Sunday batting .308 in 26 at-bats. Jose Tabata is batting .120 in 25 at-bats.
“Some guys are capitalizing on the (right field) opportunity,” Huntington said. “We have other guys that are being impacted by that a little and getting outside themselves.”
Of course, right field is reserved as the long-term spot for top prospect Gregory Polanco.
“The game plan is at some point for Gregory Polanco to take over right field,” Huntington said. “Is that this year or next year? Earlier this year, later this year?”
Around the horn
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin will visit Pirates camp Monday and will speak to the team. … Perhaps the biggest development for the Pirates this spring is that Rodriguez continues to pitch without pain. “Knock on wood, Wandy's been great. He feels healthy. He's thrown the ball well.” Huntington said. … The Pirates will delegate instant replay review duties to a staffer, Huntington said Sunday. The Pirates general manager declined to say who would have those responsibilities. “We'll have somebody whose responsibility is to evaluate the replay and provide that information to the (assistant coaches), and they will relay that information to (manager) Clint,” Huntington said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates use big 7th inning to sweep Marlins, stretch winning streak
- Pirates notebook: Alvarez having success looking the other way
- Starkey: Kang story of the year for Pirates
- Gameday: Pirates at Padres, May 28, 2015
- Pirates notebook: Struggling Polanco held out of starting lineup
- Pirates win 5th straight as offense continues to click in win over Marlins
- Former pitcher Allie happily adjusting to outfield
- Pirates’ prospect Taillon returns to mound following surgery
- Pirates pitcher Morton turns in solid performance in win over Marlins
- Gameday: Pirates vs. Marlins, May 27, 2015
- Pirates pitcher Cole climbing list with each consecutive win