Rockies to ease Brothers into game action

Lefty reliever working on mechanical issues after struggling to follow up 2013 breakout

Rockies to ease Brothers into game action

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Rockies and left-hander Rex Brothers are taking a little more time before testing his recent improvements in Cactus League play.

In Saturday's 7-5 victory over the Cubs, potential late-inning relievers LaTroy Hawkins, John Axford, Adam Ottavino and Boone Logan made their first spring appearances. Brothers is not hurt, but after posting a 5.59 ERA in 74 games last season, on the heels of a 1.74 ERA in 72 games the previous year, he is tweaking his mechanics.

"We're just working on some mechanical things and wanted to get a few more sides in before he went out there in the game," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said of Brothers, who threw a side session Saturday.

The Rockies have not announced when Brothers will appear in a Cactus League game. They are using a similar strategy with right-hander Chad Bettis, who is being converted from reliever to starter and has needed extra side sessions to hone his mechanics and fastball location. It also isn't clear when Bettis will be deemed game-ready, but both are expected to pitch in games soon.

Brothers fell behind in the count too often last season. During his 2013 breakout, opponents who were ahead hit .290 with a .968 slugging percentage in 69 at-bats. However, when Brothers ended the count ahead in 91 at-bats, he held hitters to a .110 batting, .264 slugging. Last season, there were more at-bats with the hitter ahead (73) than with Brothers ahead (71). Brothers held hitters to .225/.239 when ahead but was 315/.589 when behind.

Brothers figures an aggressive mindset will correct the stats.

"I'm always looking to locate down in the zone; I don't know how that correlates with the numbers," Brothers said. "I just want to go out there and attack, but with a good approach. I'm not changing the approach. I want to attack early and get ahead. I'm not going to back away from that."

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