Volquez working hard for spot in rotation

Edinson Volquez

Righthander Edinson Volquez remains a question mark in the Pirates pitching rotation as he tries to regain the form he flashed in 2008.

Volquez signed a contract worth 5 million during the off season, Bucs pitching coach Ray Searage is trying to get him back on track, but the spring training results are not good so far. The the 30-year-old has had a rough time in Grapefruit League play, on Saturday he allowed five hits, four runs, two earned, with a pair of walks and four strikeouts in the Pirates' 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays and carries an ERA of 11.00.

He tried to put a positive spin on his latest outing.

"I threw pretty good today, I had good fastball command," said Volquez, who is 0-2 in four spring appearances. ""'s part of the process."

Volquez signed with the Pirates with the hope that Searage could perform the same magic he did with lefty Francisco Liriano last season.

"I think it was the right decision for me," Volquez explained. "They've got good pitching coaches over here and what they did with Liriano last year, I'm looking for the same thing. I want to make adjustments and be better."

It is still a work in progress with Volquez.

"I don't know (where I stand). The number doesn't look good, though," said Volquez, who was a 2008 National League All-Star with the Reds. "They love what I've been doing, (throwing) a lot of first-pitch strikes. Like today. Out of 17 hitters, I had 15 for first-pitch strikes. I'm very happy right now."

"Okay, we got that (first-pitch strike) down," Searage said. "I'm going to hunt the good, pure and simple. We'll get some things ironed out and we'll keep hitting the drawing board

"I'm not giving up on this guy," Searage said. "Nobody has given up. We're just going to keep on plugging at it."

Volquez posted a 5.71 ERA last season, the highest among qualifiers in that statistical category. He was 9-12 in 32 starts between the Padres and Dodgers, who signed him after he was released by San Diego on Aug. 27.

"There's a lot of things happening right now," Volquez offered. "The numbers don't look good right now, but they are happy about how I've been throwing the ball. It's all about making adjustments, the quicker you make adjustments, the better for you."

With the investment the Pirates made, Volquez was asked if he is feeling any pressure.

"No, it's no pressure, I just want to make adjustments as soon as I can, be part of the team and do my job," he said.

"The consistency is the challenging part now," Pirates' manager Clint Hurdle said. "You see some nice sequences. The completeness of it isn't taking place. We're still very optimistic."

Despite the less than stellar spring training numbers. Pirates GM Neal Huntington says Volquez will be in the Bucs starting rotation.

"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."

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