Bucs have potential for three Dominican starters

Bucs have potential for three Dominican starters

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Pirates are quite proud of their state-of-the-art Dominican Academy, which has already weaned their left fielder (Starling Marte) and soon could also claim to have been the launching pad of their right fielder (Gregory Polanco).

And the Dominican Republic is equally proud of the Pirates, whose 2014 rotation could be three-fifths Dominican.

"Oh, yeah, every time we start one of the games, there will be a lot of attention in the Dominican on us," Wandy Rodriguez said. "It's gonna be special."

A couple of things will have to fall in place for it to happen: Rodriguez will have to successfully return from the forearm arthritis that shelved him for much of 2013, and Edinson Volquez's Spring Training work will have to convince the staff that he is on his own way back from a seasons-long rut.

Francisco Liriano is safe as the Pirates' Opening Day starter.

If everything clicks, Rodriguez mused that the Bucs' rotation could be the first ever to include three Dominicans.

"There have been a lot of Dominican starting pitchers," Rodriguez pointed out, since 63 natives of that country have made 25-plus Major League starts, headlined by one Hall of Famer, Juan Marichal. "But three on one team? I don't think so."

There will be at least a fourth Dominican among the season-opening 25-man roster, Marte.

"This is my first time playing with so many Dominicans," Rodriguez said, "and we feel good about being together. There is good communication between us."

If the Pirates fulfill their mission and win a World Series, perhaps a second parade could be held in Santo Domingo?

"Yeah," Rodriguez broke into a wide smile. "Why not?"

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.