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Pirates notebook: Volquez relieved with first appearance

| Thursday, April 3, 2014, 5:48 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Edinson Volquez delivers to the plate during the seventh inning against the Cubs on Thursday, April 3, 2014, at PNC Park.

Edinson Volquez made his Pirates debut in a different fashion than expected when he pitched two innings of relief Thursday against the Cubs.

The work took the place of a scheduled side session. Manager Clint Hurdle said Volquez will still start Sunday as scheduled against Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals.

“We'll see how he feels (Friday), but it was actually probably less pitches on the side with more adrenaline,” said Hurdle, who mentioned in his pre-game radio show that he might turn to Volquez after using six relievers Wednesday during a 16-inning game. “A very aggressive bullpen.”

Volquez, whom the Pirates signed as a free agent in December, had pitched in relief just five times before Thursday, including one inning last year while with the Dodgers. The right-hander pitched two innings, threw 28 pitches, gave up one hit and struck out two and said the relief outing might help his confidence.

“I felt great,” he said. “We did a lot of work in spring training, and I was ready to carry it into the game (Thursday).”

Pimentel registers 1st win

Stolmy Pimentel sat in the Pirates bullpen Wednesday night and waited. He walked around and kept stretching his arms and legs as nine innings became 10, 10 became 11, the game kept going and the number of relievers around him dwindled.

“Then I was like, wow, we don't have any more pitchers,” he said. “I heard the phone and was like, ‘This is going to be my opportunity.' They said, ‘Pimmy, you're in the game' and I started warming up and just thinking about trying to do the best I can. When I got in the game, I was just thinking (to) throw the ball and try to make my pitches.”

Pimentel, who has spent most of his professional career as a starter, came into the game to begin the 13th and pitched four scoreless innings. He gave up two hits, walked three and struck out four while earning his first major league win.

Morton should be OK

Charlie Morton's left thumb was still a little swollen and sore Thursday morning after being hit by a line drive by Nate Schierholtz.

“He got me good,” Morton said.

The right-hander said X-rays were negative, however, and he expects to be fine.

Bonifacio hot versus Pirates

Cubs center fielder Emilio Bonifacio set a career-high with five hits Wednesday and came into the series finale with nine hits in the first two games. It was the most by any Cubs player to begin his tenure with the club since at least 1921. He was 2 for 4 in the finale with a double and two runs scored.

Fifty years between starts

The Cubs and Pirates also started the season with two extra-innings games in 1964. Both games were in Pittsburgh, with the Cubs winning the season opener 8-4 in 10 innings on April 14 and the Pirates beating the Cubs, 5-4, in 12 innings April 15. Thursday's game was the longest game in innings played between the teams since an 18-inning affair at Three Rivers Stadium on Aug. 6, 1989. The Pirates won that one 5-4.

Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at kprice@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.

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