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The Edinson Volquez Comeback

The Cardinals' second-half division race with the Reds gets a useful villain tonight, as Edinson Volquez makes his first start back from the elbow surgery that knocked him out last June. 

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Being good and coming back, of course, isn't how one becomes a division-race villain. Volquez earns the nod because he has spent much of this year's rehab—50 games' worth, in fact—serving a suspension for a PED bust. Volquez lost 50 games' worth of salary, which probably hurt; the Reds, meanwhile, lost... the chance to have him on the roster as a designated pinch runner, I guess. 

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This was the most drastic flouting of a steroid suspension yet, but there's really no way around it; it's not as though there was an easy way for Major League Baseball to follow Volquez's all the way through, determine after a certain amount of rehab that he was good enough to pitch in the big leagues—"I'm sorry, we can't suspend him until that slider's a little sharper"—and then start the clock. Given how much pressure is on young pitchers to recover from ligament replacement, this won't be the last time it happens.

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But it's the first time it happens to the Cardinals in a pennant race. So if he does anything but struggle, expect to hear his name in very creative ways for the rest of the baseball season. 

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