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Volstad aims to contribute as reliever

SALT LAKE CITY -- The lack of willingness to attack the strike zone with his power sinker was a criticism of right-handed pitcher Chris Volstad as he pitched below his potential as a starter with the Marlins and Cubs. But it appears the Rockies' decision to move him to the bullpen has enhanced him.

Volstad signed a Minor League contract with the Rockies to compete for a starting rotation spot, but was converted to relief at mid-camp.

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"He really embraced it," Weiss said. "I wouldn't say he transformed himself, but he changed his approach and geared it toward that role, did everything we asked of him.

"I think he feels a lot more comfortable in that role. You've seen his velocity go up. You've seen him attack hitters, throw that hard two-seamer at the bottom of the zone. He did everything we asked of him. It was nice telling him he made our club."

Volstad joins right-handers Adam Ottavino and Edmer Escalona in a three-man middle relief rotation. Those pitchers will work on a rotation and will be responsible for getting the game to the back end of the bullpen. It's the positive that came out of last year's four-man rotation experiment. Those relievers, known back then as "piggy-backers," pitched well, especially Ottavino (5-1, 4.56 ERA in 53 games).

"Ottavino's a big-arm guy, his stuff is real good. He's got to be in good counts, like everybody else," Weiss said. "He's had success for us out of the bullpen before. Escalona is another big-arm guy that's got electric stuff. Those guys are going to be important for us to bridge that gap between starter and back end of the bullpen. I feel good about handing the ball off to those guys."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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