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Volstad's efficiency precisely what Bucs need

Called up earlier Wednesday, righty scatters two hits over two innings in first MLB action since 2013

PITTSBURGH -- From Seoul, South Korea, to Indianapolis and, now, to Pittsburgh, it's been two years of traveling with one return trip in mind: the big leagues.

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And on Wednesday night, Chris Volstad reached his destination.

Volstad was called up Wednesday as Pirates first baseman Corey Hart hit the 15-day disabled list, and manager Clint Hurdle wasted no time using the 6-foot-8 right-hander, throwing his new reliever for two innings in a 5-2 loss to the Reds at PNC Park.

Pirates place Hart on 15-day disabled list

Volstad, whose last Major League appearance came on June 15, 2013, said it felt good getting back to the bigs, and Hurdle was happy to have him.

"He came as advertised from the reports we got," Hurdle said. "I think he helped us tonight. Six guys retired on three pitches or less. It was a very efficient two-inning outing. He showed up well."

With the Pirates facing a three-run deficit, Volstad's job was to keep them within striking distance -- and it was a task he completed with relative ease.

Facing heavy hitters Joey Votto, Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce, Volstad went 1-2-3 in the seventh inning, then escaped a jam in the eighth with an inning-ending double play.

Of course, Volstad had some familiar help with that crucial double play. It was Jung Ho Kang, whom the pitcher played against in the Korea Baseball Organization in 2014, who made an impressive play at third to turn two.

"It's kind of a small world," Volstad said with a laugh.

Video: CIN@PIT: Kang starts inning-ending double play

While it was only two innings -- Volstad is accustomed to longer outings as a former starting pitcher -- that's what Hurdle will need from the right-hander in the near future.

The hitter-for-pitcher swap when Hart hit the DL occurred because the manager felt his bullpen needed a fresh arm. In Sunday's and Tuesday's games combined, all seven Pirates relievers pitched, including 4 1/3 innings from Vance Worley on Sunday against the Nationals.

Now Hurdle can factor in Volstad, who as a starter in Triple-A Indianapolis owned a 5-2 record and 3.43 ERA this season.

It's unknown how long Volstad will be with the Pirates. He could be sent back down when Hart heals up and the bullpen is refreshed.

But for the time being, Volstad said he'll do whatever Hurdle and the coaching staff need from him, and that's exactly what they want to hear.

"We're at a point right now where we need some protection out there to take care of [closer Mark] Melancon, take care of [Tony] Watson, take care of [Arquimedes] Caminero," Hurdle said. "He was a needed arm at the time, and we'll see how long we need to go that way until we settle things down a little bit."

John McGonigal is an associate reporter for
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