BRADENTON, Fla. -- It is sometimes easy -- and dangerous -- to read too much into trends one picks up while watching the earlier stages of Spring Training.
For instance, having Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Gregory Polanco essentially operate as the first-string outfield during Pirate City workouts has more to do with letting the trio get to know each other than with any subtle forecast of what the Bucs' season-opening lineup will look like.
However, the conclusion drawn from having Edinson Volquez shadow Francisco Liriano -- in bullpen side sessions, in batting practice turns -- is pretty much right on: Pitching coach Ray Searage and manager Clint Hurdle want Volquez to catch whatever Liriano has.
While Volquez was fashioning that 5.71 ERA last season, his boyhood Dominican pal was among National League leaders with a 3.02 ERA.
"Get [Volquez] to hang around a guy who works extremely well and is professional. Volquez has also been that, so we put them together," Hurdle said. "I just think that companionship, camaraderie, bonding and sharing of information is going to help."
Having Volquez and Liriano on the same throwing schedule also implies that at the beginning of Grapefruit League play, they will follow each other to the mound.
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.