Baker not worried about Volquez's slide
By Doug Harris
Thursday, August 07, 2008
CINCINNATI Reds rookie pitchers may be inclined to conserve some energy to get through the strain of their first full seasons in the majors, but Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker would like to see them expend a little more.
"I tell our young pitchers all the time to run," Baker said. "Run, run, run, run, run.
"I remember watching Ferguson Jenkins in Chicago, and he'd run from line to line every game. Why'd he throw 300 innings? He ran.
"When I was with the Dodgers, Don Sutton, Tommy John, Rick Sutcliffe, they'd all take off before BP (batting practice) up a hill and they didn't come back until after BP. Guys get hurt doing that artificial stuff, the stationary bike and stair-climbers. I'm not saying they're bad, but there's no substitute for running."
Many wonder whether Edinson Volquez is feeling the effects of a long season, but Baker doesn't believe the right-hander's problems stem from fatigue.
In four starts since his All-Star game appearance, Volquez has allowed 19 runs (15 earned) in 201/3 innings, and his record has dropped to 13-5 while his ERA has climbed to 2.93.
He's pitched 138 inning this season, the most on the Reds, but that figure isn't even close to being in the top 10 in the National League. He played winter baseball, but he tossed just 82/3 innings in the Dominican Republic.
"That's not that many innings, and his velocity is still good," Baker said. "What's happened is he's set the bar so high for himself, No. 1. And No. 2, the league makes adjustments to you after watching film. These guys aren't going to let you keep getting them out. It's up to you to make adjustments."
Although he pitched a combined 1782/3 innings in 2007, including 34 for Texas, Volquez has complained of late that he hasn't had the same command of his pitches.
"Yeah, but who does?" Baker said. "It isn't called the dog days of August because it's April. Sometimes you've got to go into uncharted waters to learn. As long as you aren't hurt, you have to pull through it. Sometimes you have to give the dudes on the other side some credit. You have to make an adjustment. He'll make it."
Asked if he still sees the 25-year-old Volquez becoming a dominant pitcher, Baker replied: "Why not? It's his first year in this league. Not many guys have broken into the league the way he has. What am I going to do, jump off now because he's had a couple bad starts? He's still at the top of the league in a lot of stuff. He's fallen off strikeout wise, but he's still learning."
Manager likes aroma
Baker had a scented candle burning in his office when he greeted reporters before Wednesday's game, a gift from his wife.
Asked if the candle was intended to provide a little tranquility amid a losing spell, Baker shook his head and said, "It makes my room smell good."
He wasn't kidding.
"I have it in my contract that I get some fragrant flowers in my room on the road," he said. "They're supposed to be nonsmoking rooms, but someone is always smoking those cigars."
Sticking with relief
The Reds are desperate for quality starting pitchers, but new acquisition Nick Masset, who was part of the Ken Griffey Jr. trade, will remain in the bullpen for now.
The right-hander has a 3.60 ERA in five innings with the Reds.
"His endurance isn't up to starting. It's a little late in the year to get there," Baker said.
"But he's strong as a bull. I like what I see in Masset. He wants the ball. He isn't scared. He looks like a tough guy to me. You need tough guys."