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Volquez's strong debut in line with Bucs' tradition

MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Clint Hurdle did not want to put too much emphasis on one start, one small step on a long road. However, the Bucs' manager couldn't ignore the fact that Edinson Volquez's first step retraced some pretty great footprints.

You probably know where this is going: The Pirates have earned a reputation for rehabilitating pitchers with Drs. Ray Searage and Jim Benedict; Volquez's maiden start added to the track record established by A.J. Burnett and Francisco Liriano.

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CHICAGO -- Clint Hurdle did not want to put too much emphasis on one start, one small step on a long road. However, the Bucs' manager couldn't ignore the fact that Edinson Volquez's first step retraced some pretty great footprints.

You probably know where this is going: The Pirates have earned a reputation for rehabilitating pitchers with Drs. Ray Searage and Jim Benedict; Volquez's maiden start added to the track record established by A.J. Burnett and Francisco Liriano.

View Full Game Coverage

Let's go to the record book for these Pittsburgh debuts:

• Burnett: April 21, 2012 against St. Louis; seven shutout innings, three hits.

• Liriano: May 11, 2013 at New York Mets; 5 1/3 innings, one run, six hits.

• Volquez: Sunday against St. Louis; 5 2/3 innings, one run, four hits.

Burnett and Liriano used their eye-opening debuts as catapults to strong seasons. Volquez gets his first opportunity to build on his bow in Saturday's middle game of the series in Milwaukee.

"He had an outstanding start," Hurdle said, enthusiastically. "Will he have that start every time? Probably not. But just to get to that point, where he knows he can do it again … just more positive reinforcement on what he has already bought into."

Even within the Pirates' well-known M.O. -- as a team with a limited budget, they have to be riverboat gamblers who occasionally hit on long odds, which for them means low-risk, high-reward projects -- Volquez is a fascinating subject. Unlike Burnett and Liriano, who had more recent success when they hit town, Volquez has been reeling for years.

"His agent sought out a place where he could be comfortable, and I give him a lot of credit for that," Hurdle said. "We'll see how it plays out, but I'm definitely optimistic about the path he is on."

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.

Pittsburgh Pirates