Fans were alarmed when the Pirates dished out $5 million for Edinson Volquez this offseason, the pitcher who allowed the most runs in the National League a season prior.
Volquez has done little to lessen anxiety.
In his Sunday start against the Baltimore Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium, Volquez allowed six runs and seven hits in just two and two-thirds innings of work as his spring ERA ballooned to 14.29. The Orioles played most of their top starters, such as Chris Davis, Adam Jones, Nelson Cruz, J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters, and Volquez looked completely overmatched. Although he picked up three strikeouts, Volquez allowed home runs to Davis and Hardy as well as a double to Cruz.
The Pirates would drop the contest 9-2, with all nine of the Orioles runs coming across the plate over the first four innings.
"His stuff was really good. Unfortunately, that was the first time I've ever caught him, and him and I weren't on the same page," Pirates catcher Tony Sanchez said of Volquez. "I could see he was uncomfortable throwing to me, and it kind of affected him. I take that to heart. I did not feel good back there because I knew he wasn't really in sync. There was a lot of shakes, a lot of time in between pitches.
Sanchez added this is a natural occurrence for a pitcher adjusting to new teammates.
"It's a process," he said. "You have to learn these guys, and that's what Spring Training is for. Unfortunately, we did give up a couple home runs off some quality pitches, but those are big league hitters, and that's why they're in the bigs."
Pittsburgh picked up a pair of runs off of home runs, as Andrew McCutchen hit a solo homer in the fourth followed by a Sanchez solo shot in the fifth. Both McCutchen and Sanchez have been hot to start the spring, evident by their .653 and .333 batting averages.
In addition, the split-squad dropped a 4-1 game against the Boston Red Sox Sunday at McKechnie Field.
Charlie Morton got the start for the Bucs and allowed three runs, one earned, in three innings of work. The first two came off of a Jackie Bradley Jr. while the third came off a Mike Carp home run that landed well past the right-center fence.
Chris McGuiness would single home Chase d'Arnaud in the seventh to provide the Pirates with their only run.
The Pirates will host a rematch against Baltimore Monday at 1:05 within the friendly confines of McKechnie Field. Jay Jackson will get the start for the Pirates, as he looks to continue his push for a spot on the Opening Day roster.
Information compiled from Pirates.com
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