"Pedro, I looked up to him a lot, starting when he was
here," Volquez said. "I never missed a game when he pitched."
Though he said he grew up around players who had been
signed by the Dodgers and played in the team's Minor
League system, Volquez said he would have embraced the opportunity to sign with the Dodgers, largely because he wanted to follow in Martinez's footsteps.
But Volquez said that at the time he wasn't the power
pitcher that he has become now, one who is second in the
National League with seven victories and one strikeout
behind San Francisco's Tim Lincecum for the MLB
Volquez said he threw only in the high 80s and played
shortstop when he wasn't playing basketball. Still, he
said the Dodgers remained such a presence where he
grew up that he wondered if the team's reach would
extend into his future.
"The Dodgers signed a lot of guys who were very close
to my house," Volquez said.
He also said that he was easy to miss at that stage.
"Not the Dodgers, not the Braves, nobody was really on
me," he said. "Just the Marlins, Colorado and
Texas originally signed him for the modest sum of
$27,000 in October 2001.
"I was throwing like 87-88 mph at the time I
signed," Volquez said. "That was my average fastball. I had
good movement. But like two months later, I was at 92.
It was unreal."
These days, Volquez comfortably works in the 92-95 mph range.
Volquez said that he had worried about signing with
the Dodgers then, but admitted that the lure of
following Pedro would have been tempting.
"I was kind of scared [about] signing with the Dodgers,
because they were signing a lot of players I know who
were getting released," he said. "I didn't even think
about the Dodgers. One of the guys, when I was little,
I think he worked for the Dodgers and was [involved
with] Adrian Beltre."
Volquez has other things in common with Martinez beyond their both being Dominican. They were both traded early in their Major League careers by their respective first organizations; Martinez to Montreal for Delino DeShields and Volquez from Texas for Josh Hamilton.
Volquez has also had success because he throws a solid changeup, Martinez's signature out pitch.
"The success has come from throwing his fastball from
the same slot that his changeup comes out of," said
Lenny Strelitz, a former Minor League pitcher and
Texas Rangers scouting director who Volquez credits
for helping him refine his delivery with extensive
"I just encouraged him to go back to his natural arm slot with all his pitches. I think big league hitters were sitting on his changeup because they could see it coming. They weren't even offering at it. Now they swing at the change because they don't see any difference."