Last year the Pittsburgh Pirates had question marks at the back of their rotation heading into the season. They had Jeff Locke, who came with the normal questions that a rookie would have. They also had Jonathan Sanchez in the fifth spot in the rotation, after the lefty signed a minor league deal in the off-season. That doesn’t include the questions wondering which James McDonald would show up in 2013 — the first half version from 2012 or the second half version?
This year the Pirates have questions marks in the back of the rotation. Edinson Volquez is a bounce back candidate, while there are questions on how Wandy Rodriguez will return from his injury. If Rodriguez can return healthy, and pitch like he did with the Pirates before his injury, that will be a huge boost to the 2014 rotation.
Rodriguez took a big step today in answering that question, pitching one inning in his 2014 Spring Training debut. After the game he said his forearm feels good.
Rodriguez gave up an unearned run thanks to two errors, but also recorded two strikeouts. His only mistake was hitting Sean Rodriguez with the second pitch of the game. He noted that he was uncertain about how his stuff would be before facing the first batter, but that he got more comfortable as the game went on. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle noticed the confidence growing.
“Good step forward for him today,” Hurdle said. “He was probably still a little nervous until after that first pitch, then you could see the confidence grow as the inning went on.”
Rodriguez only went one inning, which was the plan today. He said he could go 2-3 innings his next time out, after two days of rest, a bullpen session, and two days off. Hurdle said that they don’t have a definite timeline for his upcoming schedule, but said he will at least get multiple innings the next time out.