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Reds choose Edinson Volquez as Opening Day starter over Bronson Arroyo and Johnny Cueto

Feb 22, 2011, 11:40 AM EDT

Edinson Volquez-thumb-220x149-9891

Aaron Harang has been Cincinnati’s starter on Opening Day in each of the past five seasons, but he’s in San Diego now and manager Dusty Baker announced that Edinson Volquez will get the Game 1 assignment this year.

Volquez is sort of an odd pick, because he missed most of last season while coming back from Tommy John elbow surgery and was hardly the Reds’ best starter when healthy, going 4-3 with a 4.31 ERA in 12 starts. Bronson Arroyo is the veteran of the rotation and went 17-10 with a 3.88 ERA in 33 starts, and Johnny Cueto was the best of the young guys with a 12-7 record and 3.64 ERA in 31 starts.

Arroyo will follow Volquez and Cueto will get the nod in Game 3, with Baker explaining the ordering by saying:

You want to go hard, soft, hard. You want to break up Cueto and Volquez so they don’t go out and out radar gun each other.

First of all, “you want to go hard, soft, hard” is the leader in the clubhouse for best out-of-context quote of spring training. Secondly, that doesn’t explain why Volquez is ahead of Cueto, although Mark Sheldon of MLB.com writes:

As for the hoopla that surrounds the opener, Baker felt Volquez was equipped to handle it since nothing really bothers him. More importantly, he felt Volquez could handle facing the other club’s No. 1 starters regularly.

Which would be fine, except starting on Opening Day doesn’t mean Volquez will be facing other No. 1 starters throughout the season. Because of off days, injuries, and other factors those matchups become more or less random within a couple weeks.

  1. ngearhart1981 - Feb 22, 2011 at 11:48 AM

    An important factor in all of this that you neglected to mention is that Baker is an ignorant tool.

  2. joshfrancis50 - Feb 22, 2011 at 11:50 AM

    Baker also said that he didn’t want to put the pressure of Opening Day on Cueto, who will already be feeling pressure to live up to his new contract. Not that it isn’t a big deal in every city, but Opening Day in Cincinnati is a holiday and given Baker’s explanation, I can understand why he didn’t want to go with Cueto.

    • spudchukar - Feb 22, 2011 at 1:09 PM

      How does this bode well for future pressure situations for Cueto? If he cannot handle the pressure of opening day, how is he going to do in truly meaningful ones? Like in St. Louis or Milwaukee when the heat is on.

  3. trevorb06 - Feb 22, 2011 at 12:03 PM

    Baker seems to think like my girlfriend. She would rather go hard-soft-hard too.

    • xmatt0926x - Feb 22, 2011 at 12:56 PM

      Your girlfriend manages a baseball team??

      • cur68 - Feb 22, 2011 at 9:26 PM

        Naw, she’s fastballer. Sorry dude. I couldn’t resist.

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