SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- This time, right-hander Eddie Butler plans to be healthy and effective when the Rockies call his name.
Butler's throwing shoulder wasn't right, and he knew it, when the Rockies summoned him to the Majors from Double-A Tulsa last June. Butler went to the disabled list immediately after his debut because of a rotator cuff strain. He didn't return until the final week of the season, when he made two starts.
"Guys were always talking about the numbers the [Rockies'] starters were putting up at the time, so I knew the chance was there," said Butler, who went 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA in three Major League starts. "I wish I was in a better spot to get up there, stick, be healthy and compete."
Butler, the Rockies' No. 2 prospect and the Majors' No. 35 prospect according to MLB.com, will make his 2015 Spring Training debut Thursday against the D-backs (he is scheduled behind righty starter Jhoulys Chacin). After a winter of strengthening and rehabbing the shoulder, this spring is the beginning of his chance to erase last year's first impression.
The signing of righty Kyle Kendrick gave Colorado five projected starters, with Butler on the outside looking in. The team also has several veterans on Minor League contracts who can step into the rotation if necessary. If injuries and performance aren't immediate problems, the only way Butler will make the rotation out of camp is if he pitches so well it's impossible to turn him away.
In early sessions, Butler has shown signs of the power sinker that led the Rockies to pick him 46th overall in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft and drew the raves from those who rate prospects. Butler said he's more concerned with the downward action than velocity, since he expects to return to the mid-to-upper 90s he threw before the shoulder woes. Now he wants to carry the stuff into games.
"There's an opportunity for me to step up and take a spot, but that's what I'm going to have to do," Butler said. "I'm going to have to show that I'm ready, that this is my spot. These guys are all trying to do the same thing."