Volstad optimistic for turnaround in Colorado

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- All right-handed pitcher Chris Volstad could do was work out this winter as his career went nowhere and everywhere at the same time.

The Cubs released Volstad after he went 3-12 with a 6.31 ERA in a year that saw him spend significant time in Triple-A. The Royals signed Volstad in October, but dropped him in November. Finally, Volstad joined the Rockies last month on a Minor League contract with a salary of $1.5 million if he makes the Majors.

The last two years have been difficult for Volstad, who went 12-9 with a 4.58 ERA in 30 starts for the Marlins in 2010 but is 8-25 with a 5.46 ERA in 50 starts since. But at just 26, he reports he is healthy and full of hope with a new team that also has fallen on hard times recently. Volstad is a candidate for the starting rotation.

"I hit the gym really hard this offseason, kind of for that reason," Volstad said. "It was kind of awkward, not being in a spot and not knowing where you're going to end up. Ending up here is definitely the best thing that could've happened. I'm excited about it.

"Some of these guys are a couple years younger than I am -- I turned 26 last September, but I feel older than that for some reason, for the roller coaster I've been on. So far I fit in really well here. These guys are an awesome group, and you can tell they've been together for a while, push each other and hopefully are going to be here for a while."

What happened to Volstad, whom the Marlins traded to the Cubs in the deal for pitcher Carlos Zambrano, before last season? There has been talk of a shoulder issue, but Volstad has been a wire-to-wire starter each year -- granted, some of that time was in the Minors -- and reports no pain.

"It's a matter of relaxing and not overdoing it -- naturally throw downhill," said Volstad, who is listed at 6-foot-8. "The times when you're trying to make it move or trying to throw it too hard or you're thinking about being perfect where you need to throw the ball, you tighten up a little bit, you try too hard, you tense up and you're not going to have that natural whip in your arm or mechanics."

It could help that Mark Wiley, the Marlins' pitching coach when Volstad broke into the Majors in 2008, is the Rockies' new director of pitching operations and will be around throughout Spring Training.

"Being able to recall what we worked on then and what he remembered, I think it might be a little bit of an advantage, just in communication," Volstad said.