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Cactus League Game 28: Reds vs. Padres

Next Game

Cincinnati Reds
vs. San Diego Padres

Friday, March 25, 2011

4:05 PM EDT
Goodyear Ballpark

Edinson Volquez vs. Casey Kelly

TV: None; RADIO: 700 WLW, XEPE 1700, XEMO 860 (Sp.), XPRS ; WEB: Gameday, Gameday Audio

Partly cloudy. Game time temperature around 70.

It may horrify you to know that Edinson Volquez, O.D.P., is the owner of an 11.47 spring ERA. While the ERA may be pure noise, and the run environment in Arizona has been bonkers, there's some cause for concern over how little tune-up the Wagon has gotten against major leaguers (4.2 IP) with just 6 days left until Baseballmas. The seven walks in 4.2 IP is no picnic either, but at least Volquez is missing some bats (5 K). In the spring before his 2008 All Star season, Volquez struck out a whopping 19 batsmen in 13 IP, but also allowed allowed an equal number of baserunners. The difference, then vs. now, is that only 3 runners reached by the base on balls (and one HBP). So while we generally gloss over balls in play during spring training, it's hard to ignore the wildness.

As Volquez sets out on his first full season after Tommy John surgery, he not only has an assured spot in the rotation, he's at the top of the order. The Golden Rubber. The Magnificent Mound. The Aaron Harang Chair for Pitching Before Anyone Else. This level of job security allows pitchers to work on things, something his predecessor Aaron Harang was often credited with doing during the spring. But what would provide some peace of mind, even if Volquez gets hit hard today, is reaching his pitch count and hitting his spots. A series of early exits by starters in the early-going of 2011 could be taxing on the bullpen. And we may not be able to expect the same resilience as we saw in 2010, in which the first starter win was delayed until April 22.

Young starting pitchers can be slow starters. They can be erratic - and sometimes easily rattled. This staff has all the potential it had at the end of last season. It's going to be frustrating, but fun, seeing them put it together.

UPDATE:  Rolen and Hernandez were both scratched with elbow issues. Hernandez was been battling a sore one in his throwing arm and Rolen was hit by a pitch yesterday. The replacement of Rolen by Valaika - and announcement that Francisco will be tried in the OF again this season - raises the possibility that C-Val, not Fraizer or Francisco, could be the most immediate successor during any of the almost-inevitable Rolen DL trips this year.


Cincinnati Reds san diego padres
Brandon Phillips 2B
Chris Denorfia CF
Edgar Renteria SS
Orlando Hudson 2B
Joey Votto 1B
Jorge Cantu 3B
Jay Bruce RF
Brad Hawpe 1B
Jonny Gomes LF
Ryan Ludwick LF
Drew Stubbs CF
Oscar Salazar RF
Devin Mesoraco C
Rob Johnson C
Chris Valaika 3B
Everth Cabrera SS
Edinson Volquez P
Casey Kelly P