Edinson Volquez excited to join Royals’ rotation

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MARCH 2015 – Edinson Volquez, the newest addition to the Kansas City Royals’ rotation, has had the misfortune of starting two playoff games with the opposing pitcher at the top of his game.

Volquez’s first playoff start was in 2010 for the Cincinnati Reds in the first game of the NLDS. The Philadelphia Phillies countered with Roy Halladay, who threw a no-hitter in the 4-0 Reds’ defeat.

Volquez’s next playoff start was the National League wildcard game last Oct. 1 at Pittsburgh. The San Francisco Giants started left-hander Madison Bumgarner, who threw a shutout, striking out 10, walking one and allowing four hits.

“He’s unbelievable. He’s great,” Volquez said.

The Royals know firsthand how great Bumgarner was last October with his historical World Series run with two victories and a five-inning save in Game 7.

With James Shields bolting the Royals for the greener pastures – or should that be more greenbacks? – of San Diego, Volquez was signed to take his rotation space.

“I got lucky,” Volquez said of joining the Royals. “I went to Pittsburgh last year and the team went to the playoffs, too. This team went to the World Series. I wanted to be part of the team. I think I made the right choice to come over.”

Volquez said he offers from other clubs, but agreed to a two-year $20 million contract with a team option for a third season.

“I don’t what to be on a losing team,” he said. “I just want to be here. Everybody saw what this team did last year. I was so excited to come over.”

The Royals rotation will be Yordano “Ace” Ventura, Danny Duffy, Jeremy Guthrie, Jason Vargas and Volquez.

Volquez has had an uneven career. He was initially signed in 2001 by the Texas Rangers as a 17-year-old from the Dominican Republic. He made his big league debut in 2005 and was traded after the 2007 season to the Reds for Josh Hamilton.

Royals ReportVolquez went 17-6 with a 3.21 in 2008, his first season with the Reds. He yielded one or no runs in his first eight starts that season and did not allow more than two earned runs a game in his first dozen starts.

On June 1, 2009, Volquez had held hitters to a .191 batting average, the lowest in the National League. The next day he went on the disabled list with a sore elbow. After two futile months trying to rehab, Volquez, required Tommy John surgery to repair a ligament tear.

“Everything started in 2009, after my good year in Cincinnati, I got Tommy John,” Volquez said. “It was tough for me to get back on track. It took me two years to get back. I was up and down. I got traded to San Diego and I had a so-so year in 2012 and 2013 was bad. Another good year in 2014. I think that was part of get ready.”

Volquez had a disastrous 2013 with the Padres, going 9-10 with a 6.01 ERA and was released Aug. 27. The Los Angeles Dodgers picked him up the next day, but he was 0-2 with a 4.18 in six games, five of them starts. He allowed the most runs, 114, in the National League.

He resurrected his career last season with the Pirates under the tutelage of pitching coach Ray Searage.

“I did a lot of work last year with the pitching coach to get me back to where I was in 2008, which was my best season in the big leagues,” Volquez said. “We were successful last year. We put everything together, little things we make adjustment and that made me better.”

Volquez went 13-7 with a 3.04 ERA in 32 games, while striking out 140 and walking 71. He won his final five decisions, going 2-0 with a 1.08 ERA in five September starts and 3-0 with a 2.11 ERA in six August starts. He threw a career best 18-scoreless innings to end the regular season. Beginning on June 23, Volquez went 9-1 with a 1.85 ERA in his final 17 starts. His ERA ranked fourth lowest in the majors in that span with only Cy Young Award winners Clayton Kershaw and Corey Kluber, plus Jon Lester, having a better ERA during that stretch.

“In the second half of the season, my arm started feeling better and getting stronger,” Volquez said. “I think that was the reason. My whole body was strong and my arm. I was pounding the zone. I was working with the pitching coach and stayed at the bottom of the zone, attacked the hitters and stayed aggressive. I think that was the key.”

He is looking forward to throwing to Royals All-Star catcher Salvador Perez, who he describes as a “tornado, he’s all over the clubhouse.”

“Sal, he is good,” Volquez said. “I know how to pitch and he knows how to catch.”

Volquez, who has only two complete-games in his seven-plus years in the majors, will not mind leaving with a lead after six innings. He knows the Royals’ relieving trio of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland will likely protect it.

“We’ve got three guys in the bullpen that we know if you can go six innings, you’ve got like a 90 percent chance to win. Hopefully, we do the same thing like they did last year.”

Written by Alan Eskew

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