Volquez aiming to help bolster Royals' rotation

Right-hander is looking to stay within himself coming off stellar 2014

Volquez aiming to help bolster Royals' rotation

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Right-hander Edinson Volquez was signed by the Royals essentially to replace James Shields.

But Volquez doesn't want to put that kind of pressure on himself.

"I don't want to say I will replace him," Volquez said. "I want to be myself. He's a great guy and a great pitcher. He was unbelievable when he was here.

"He's got a lot of friends in here [the clubhouse]. Hopefully I make a lot of friends this year."

Volquez already has started in that department. In the Royals' Spring Training clubhouse, his locker sits next to the very vocal Salvador Perez, his soon-to-be batterymate.

"Oh, man, he's like a tornado," Volquez said. "He's all over the clubhouse. I'm trying to get to know him. He just never stops moving."

Perez rarely stops talking, either, or being playful. When Volquez suggested his goal this season was to pitch 200 innings, Perez quickly interrupted him.

"It's 222," Perez said. "You're throwing 222 innings."

Volquez nodded in agreement with his new goal.

"I'm gonna work for that," he said. "I'll do my best."

Volquez threw 192 2/3 innings last season, while posting a career-best 3.04 ERA for Pittsburgh. He admits he was a bit fatigued by September.

"It felt like a lot in the end," he said. "I pitched the whole year and got a little tired at the end."

But Volquez, 31, vows he can handle the workload. On Saturday, the Royals got their first close-up look at his stuff in a side session of about 30 pitches.

"It's amazing what you can do when you have a great changeup," vice president/assistant general manager J.J. Picollo said after watching the session. "Guys like him and Shields, they can use that pitch anytime. It's fun to watch."

Volquez said he likes to keep it simple.

"Really, I just throw two pitches," he said. "I throw a fastball and a changeup. That's about it."

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jflanagankc. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.