Volquez's rough start not all on his shoulders

Volquez's rough start not all on his shoulders

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was talking about a different group of pitchers -- relievers to be precise -- when he said his evaluation process includes "kicking one outing to the curb for everybody."

Edinson Volquez got his curbed outing on Sunday. In the Orioles' portion of the Bucs' split-squad action, the rotation hopeful couldn't make it through three innings, allowing six runs on seven hits in 2 2/3 innings of the 9-2 loss in Sarasota, Fla.

After the Pirates' other defeat, 4-1 to the Red Sox, Hurdle hadn't yet received any reports on Volquez's first start of the spring. Presumably, he will get an earful on Monday from pitching coach Ray Searage, who was in attendance at the game in Sarasota.

Five of the runs off Volquez scored on home runs by Chris Davis for two and J.J. Hardy for three. The Pirates also went yard twice, but the shots by Andrew McCutchen and Tony Sanchez were solos.

Afterward, Sanchez took another shot -- at himself, actually accepting a large share of the blame for Volquez's outing.

"His stuff was really good," said Sanchez, who caught the veteran right-hander for the first time. "... I could see he was uncomfortable throwing to me and it kind of affected him.

"I'd like to think that if we had more time together to work with each other, he would have felt a little more comfortable, because I know that affected him. But I thought his fastball command, for the most part, went pretty well," Sanchez said of Volquez, who was consistently in the 92-93 mph range.

The outing raised Volquez's preseason ERA to 14.29 for 5 2/3 innings. Raising the A.J. Burnett issue is pointless for Pirates fans, however; Burnett has a spring ERA of 12.60 in five innings with the Phillies.

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.