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OnBaseMachine
07-14-2008, 04:05 PM
Big Apple beckons Volquez

By John Erardi • jerardi@enquirer.com • July 14, 2008

Among those people who will be Velcroed to their TV sets Tuesday during the Major League Baseball All-Star game in hopes that Edinson Volquez will get to face Josh Hamilton is former Reds general Wayne Krivsky, who engineered the Hamilton-for-Volquez-and-Danny Herrera deal.
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“I don’t exactly how I’m going to feel about seeing that (possible) matchup – ask me afterward – but I’m sure I’ll have goose bumps,” says Krivsky, now a special assistant to NewYork Mets general manager Omar Minaya.

“Goose bumps” is a good word to describe the results of the trade: Two young players with considerable talent have both blossomed into Cinderella stories right before our eyes.

Like Cinderella, this tale may be destined for the ages; unlike Cinderella, this tale is true.

“I’m glad it happened to me,” Volquez says. “I love it here (in Cincinnati). It’s a great feeling when somebody says, ‘We believe in you.’”

When Krivsky traded Hamilton – the popular outfielder with the Hollywood story of overcoming years of drug addiction and no major-league experience to star with the Reds in 2007 – Krivsky expected to be vilified by Reds fans.

Krivsky: “I figured, ‘There goes the Christmas holiday. We’re going to get hammered for this.’”

But he never took a beating over the trade.

“I was impressed with Reds fans being able to separate their affection (for Hamilton) and looking at the guy (Volquez) we got in return,” says Krivsky, who also noted Herrera’s successful debut with the Reds last month.

Except for the occasional lament from talk-show callers these days, one rarely hears any criticism for the trade. Some callers say they think Krivsky should have given up somebody besides Hamilton to get Volquez.

But Krivsky says the Rangers wouldn’t do any deal unless they got Hamilton, and Krivsky wasn’t going to give anybody Hamilton unless the return was a “front-of-the-rotation” pitcher who was either major-league ready or right on the cusp.

Most people realize how desperate the Reds were for starting pitching, and that Volquez gives them the best hope for making it to the postseason eventually.

That is because Volquez has joined with fellow super-talented Dominican Johnny Cueto to make one of the best 1-2 punches of young pitching in all of baseball. At the break, Volquez is 12-3 with a 2.29 ERA.

Volquez is not only friends with Cueto, he serves as his clubhouse interpreter for the media.

“Sometimes I have to (embellish Cueto’s) words,” says Volquez, grinning. “He doesn’t give me much to work with.”

Volquez’s English is excellent. How’d he get such good command?

“My first year in the minors,” he says. “One of my teammates, an American, a lefthanded pitcher, spoke Spanish very well. He said, ‘I know you don’t know English; I know a little bit of Spanish. I can teach you English, and you can teach me more Spanish.’

"Every time we were together, batting practice, whatever, I’d say, ‘How do you say this? How do you say that?’ And he’d tell me. He got released a couple of years ago, but I’m still using the English he taught me.”

Volquez’s ebullience and bright disposition has defined him almost as much as his pitching.

“It’s me; it’s who I am – and I’m not going to change,” Volquez says.

That free-spiritedness got him in trouble in Texas, where the Rangers felt it was contributing to his under-achieving. He had worked his way up to the big club last year, but was sent back down to A-ball to get his act together.

“It included everything from wearing my hat straight, to tucking in my shirt, to pulling up my pants, and having to get back-and-forth from the mound to the dugout in 12 seconds,” Volquez says. “It made me a different person – better. I realized I didn’t need to ‘be myself’ in order to be a big-league pitcher. I could play by the rules.”

What was the toughest rule of all?

“Cutting my hair,” he says.

Volquez conned his teammates into thinking it was his idea to cut his long hair; he told them the highest bidder would get to do it.

“Vincente Padilla gave me $600,” recalls Volquez, laughing. “It was a total (con job).”

From whence springs his happy-go-lucky approach? Volquez smiles. “My father, I think. He’s the same way.”

Volquez’ father is an auto mechanic in the Dominican. Volquez’ mother, formerly a teacher, has been with Edison in Cincinnati for a couple of weeks. She traveled with him to New York City to watch him pitch in the All-Star game.

“She’s cooking me all the Dominican (dishes) I like,” Volquez says. “I’m not much of a cook. Usually, I find somebody’s mother who is in town to cook for me. And I’ve grown to like American food, too. I especially like ribs. Baby back ribs are my favorite.”

As much as Volquez is looking forward to returning to Yankee Stadium and hopefully reprising the success he had there last month when the Reds took 2-of-3 games from the Yankees, he says he is happiest right here – in Cincinnati.

“Too many Dominicans in New York,” he says, laughing. “Here (in Cincinnati) I can be (under the radar). Everybody here is nice to me. They’re not looking for anything.”

Just victories.

http://news.cincinnati.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080714/SPT04/307140064

reds44
07-14-2008, 04:10 PM
Awesome.

OnBaseMachine
07-14-2008, 04:15 PM
Edinson is a smart kid. I'm so glad to have him in Cincinnati; I hope he spends his whole career in the Queen City. He's such a joy to watch out on the mound with his 97 mph heat and unbelievable changeup, but it's the enthusiasm he shows after getting a huge out to end an inning that I like. I look forward to watching he and Johnny Cueto pitch in a Reds uniform for a long, long time.

redsfan30
07-14-2008, 04:20 PM
I look forward to Volquez and Cueto teaming up to lead this team to many post season appearances in the very near future!

Degenerate39
07-14-2008, 04:22 PM
I look forward to Volquez and Cueto teaming up to lead this team to many post season appearances in the very near future!

If Homer keeps improving like we saw yesterday then you can add him to that list. If Bailey, Volquez, and Cueto live up to their expectations then we'll have a hell of a pitching staff.

OnBaseMachine
07-14-2008, 04:26 PM
A little off topic here but next year I'd like to see the Reds use Dominican themed bobblehead night. Maybe a Cueto/Volquez bobblehead duo, then release a Mario Soto and Francisco Cordero bobblehead later in the season. They need to market the heck out of the kids over the next few years.

Deepred05
07-14-2008, 04:32 PM
If Homer keeps improving like we saw yesterday then you can add him to that list. If Bailey, Volquez, and Cueto live up to their expectations then we'll have a hell of a pitching staff.

As disappointing as this season has been thus far, I can't help but be genuinely thrilled about the future of this team. I know, I know, don't get your hopes up. But I have to say, after all those seasons of wishing we had some pitching, I can see some light at the end of the tunnel.:)

Sea Ray
07-14-2008, 04:48 PM
As disappointing as this season has been thus far, I can't help but be genuinely thrilled about the future of this team. I know, I know, don't get your hopes up. But I have to say, after all those seasons of wishing we had some pitching, I can see some light at the end of the tunnel.:)

It's been great to see all this young pitching. Sure, we've got offensive holes to fill but those are much easier to find than young, power pitching. That bodes well for the future.

Volquez reminds me of Jose Rijo in the late 80s. Jose was acquired after failing to establish himself at the major league level after being a minor league phenom and he went on to lead us to a WS championship. Funny thing is as good as Rijo was, he never won more than 15 games. Edison has a chance to better that this year. He might be better than Jose.

Homer Bailey
07-14-2008, 04:49 PM
What I like the most about Volquez is his swag. There is just something about his confidence on the mound that I can't put into words. He doesn't get down on himself out there like some guys do. He just always stays cool, and manages to smile about some silly things. I love when he gets that little smirk on his face after getting someone out on his change up. I just love this kids attitude on and off the field. I'm glad to hear he likes Cincinnati.

RedsManRick
07-14-2008, 05:17 PM
What I like the most about Volquez is his swag. There is just something about his confidence on the mound that I can't put into words. He doesn't get down on himself out there like some guys do. He just always stays cool, and manages to smile about some silly things. I love when he gets that little smirk on his face after getting someone out on his change up. I just love this kids attitude on and off the field. I'm glad to hear he likes Cincinnati.

I agree. He's sort of like or Manny Ramirez with a little more sanity. Always looks like he's having fun out there.

OnBaseMachine
07-14-2008, 06:50 PM
Classic a long way from Bakersfield
Volquez rebounded nicely after devastating demotion in '07
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com

NEW YORK -- Bakersfield, Calif., and New York City.

Edinson Volquez let out a big laugh when the two cities were mentioned Monday.

The mere discrepancy between those two cities -- better than any stat or scouting report or explanation about Volquez's 2008 season -- best explains just how far the Reds right-hander has come in the past year.

From a devastating demotion to high-A ball by the Rangers in Spring Training of '07 to his first appearance on an All-Star roster for Tuesday's game at Yankee Stadium, Volquez has, indeed, come quite far.

How did he do it?

"Talk to him," Volquez said, pointing to the bespectacled man standing to the left of his podium at the All-Star media availability at the Grand Hyatt hotel.

That man was Len Strelitz, Volquez's agent and, most importantly, friend through what was a humbling 2007.

The Rangers, who had plucked Volquez out of the Dominican Republic and given him his first opportunities in the big leagues in 2005 and 2006, took the drastic measure of sending him down to A-ball, following a formula that worked for Roy Halladay and the Blue Jays in 2001.

But the Rangers didn't just want Volquez to refine his command or work on his changeup. They also handed down a list of demands that had nothing to do with his pitching. For one, they weren't all that pleased with his mannerisms on the mound -- the way he'd punch his glove or throw his head back when plays or calls didn't go his way.

"Texas misunderstood his personality," Strelitz said. "They took some of his mannerisms as a lack of focus and concentration, and it's not. Everybody has different ways of showing their emotions out there."

The Rangers wanted Volquez to tone down his act.

"They gave him a list of rules to abide by," Strelitz remembered. "Everything from the length of his hair to how he wore his uniform to how fast he got off the mound. It was a controlling atmosphere."

And Volquez had no control over what the Rangers wanted to do with him. So off to A-ball he went.

"It was tough, man," he said of the experience. "It was not easy."

Volquez put up a 7.13 ERA in seven starts for the Bakersfield Blaze. At times, he thought of simply packing up and going home. Strelitz often found himself having to talk his client out of such crazy notions.

"We were having phone conversations where he'd say, 'I'm not happy, they don't like me, I'm going home,'" Strelitz said. "His first game [in Bakersfield], he pitched five innings, and in the fifth inning, he gave up a couple of hits, and a guy hit one up into the wind. He gave up four runs. Just like that your ERA's about nine, you're in A-ball, you were in the big leagues last year. It had to be tough. But he persevered and saw the light at the end of the tunnel."

That perseverance carried Volquez up the Minor League ladder and back to the big leagues in September of last season. Still, he was far from a finished product, and the Rangers shipped him off to the Reds in what has quickly become one of baseball's more intriguing recent trades.

Both of the principles of that trade -- Volquez and Josh Hamilton -- are now representing their new clubs in the Midsummer Classic. As far as All-Star storylines go, Hamilton's comeback from a drug addiction can't reasonably be topped, but Volquez's tale is pretty intriguing, as well.

A breakthrough of sorts came when Strelitz pointed out to Volquez that he was delivering his changeup from a lower slot than his fastball. Opposing batters were picking up on the tip and pouncing.

"I told him, 'You're throwing your good changeup, and they're not even reacting to it,'" Strelitz said. "I think they're seeing it out of your hands."

Handed a job in the Reds' starting rotation, the 25-year-old Volquez has made that adjustment in his delivery, developed a slider that has proven to be an effective weapon and amassed an impressive 11-3 record and 2.36 ERA through 19 games.

And he's done all this without changing who he is -- funky hair, wild mannerisms and all.

"[The Reds] gave me the confidence," Volquez said. "They said, 'Do your job, have fun on the mound and do everything how you do it.' That's what I'm doing. I just go out there and have fun."

He's certainly having a lot of fun. And the fun will be kicked up a notch over the next two days, as Volquez, who should be available to pitch one inning Tuesday night, enjoys the life of an All-Star.

And when the All-Star invitation was handed out, Volquez knew just who he wanted alongside for the ride. It was, after all, Strelitz who urged him to hang in there when the Rangers bumped him back to Bakersfield and Strelitz who called him one day in April to offer a flattering assessment of his work.

"I called him about the third or the fourth game of the year and told him, 'It's official.'" Strelitz said. "He said, 'What do you mean?' I said, 'You are the best pitcher in baseball.'"

Volquez's reaction?

"I just want to win," he told his agent. "I just want to win."

Volquez has won himself a spot among the game's elite, and he's come a long, long way from Bakersfield

http://cincinnati.reds.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080714&content_id=3135095&vkey=news_cin&fext=.jsp&c_id=cin

WebScorpion
07-15-2008, 03:07 PM
It says a lot about a person when he remembers to acknowledge the people who enabled his success. Very heartwarming stories all around Volquie. I love that he's thrilled with Cincinnati and that Cincinnatians are embracing him as well. His agent sounds like something right out of the Jerry MaGuire movie. He's his Embassador of Kwan! :thumbup: