Butler sees maturity as key to taking next step

Young right-hander revamped offseason routine

Butler sees maturity as key to taking next step

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-hander Eddie Butler believes he has the stuff to pitch in the Majors, and he is intent on showing he can bridge the gap between stuff and success.

Butler, fighting for a spot in the season-opening rotation, could put up a strong argument on Monday afternoon, when he starts against the Athletics at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, Ariz.

"Anybody will tell you my stuff plays in the big leagues," Butler said. "The big thing for me is my mind -- the mental game, how I control things. That's what they've told me my whole Minor League career, either that's what's going to hold me back or that's what's going to make me successful."

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Butler, the No. 2 prospect in the organization and No. 36 among MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects, was called to the Majors from Double-A for his debut last June. But, already dealing with right rotator cuff weakness, Butler went to the disabled list immediately after his debut. He made just three Major League starts (1-1, 6.75 ERA) and the physical issue was a result of not having full understanding of the preparation and maintenance it took to endure over a full season, as well as an indication that his maturity had not reached Major League level.

Butler, 24, realizes that it takes more than his 96-mph fastball.

"I made a lot of changes this offseason with the way I act, the way I do things," Butler said. "I've gotten physically stronger. I've built relationships in this clubhouse. Those little things help your maturity level."

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The Rockies encouraged Butler to work out at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick throughout the offseason and take advantage of the coaching and training staff at his disposal. Butler said he received important advice from Andy McKay, the team's peak performance coordinator (sports psychologist), who taught him the importance of taking a deep breath to relax and assess a situation.

It has shown this spring. Butler (1-2, 2.63 ERA) has eight strikeouts and has faced heavy base traffic -- 13 hits, three walks and a hit batter in 13 2/3 innings, but he has been able to pitch out of trouble.

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.