Compare Volquez's numbers to fellow rotation contender Homer Bailey, and it's no contest. Bailey has a 5.21 ERA with 24 hits, 16 walks and 11 strikeouts allowed over his 19 innings. Another contender, Matt Belisle, has a 9.00 ERA over four starts but has missed two turns because of a forearm injury that has likely quashed his hopes.Before his offseason trade from the Rangers to the Reds for Josh Hamilton, Volquez had a reputation for being erratic and throwing a lot of pitches. It's been the contrary in Cincinnati's camp this spring, where he has attacked the strike zone. He's also done well at changing speeds -- mixing his 96-mph fastball with a much improved changeup and a still developing curveball. "We like his mound presence and his poise," Baker said. "He threw the ball well." It was not all good for Volquez, however. He went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts as a batter on Tuesday. "He has to work on his hitting some," Baker said. Volquez should have ample time to do that in the big leagues, starting next week.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.