MILWAUKEE -- The chances are good that lefty Jorge De La Rosa, the Rockies' No. 1 starting pitcher, will join the rotation on April 14 in San Francisco after missing the first turn with a left groin strain. De La Rosa had a successful 45-pitch session against hitters on Sunday, and reported his push-off leg was "tired" but generally in good shape on Monday.
De La Rosa, who went 14-11 with a 4.10 ERA -- and 10-2 with a 3.08 ERA at home -- last year, is scheduled to throw 65-75 pitches in a rehab start for Triple-A Albuquerque on Thursday, at home against Reno.
De La Rosa has had groin issues in Spring Trainings past, so the Rockies wanted this one taken care of early. He still might have to deal with some fatigue or soreness, but that may not be entirely bad.
Last year, after a long rehab from Tommy John left elbow surgery in 2011, De La Rosa was pain-free and strong. As a result, he overthrew and went 2-3 with a 5.23 ERA in his first six starts. But after a May 7 start at Texas, he had to skip a start because of back tightness. He also dealt with a bruised left thumb for the rest of the season. He did his best pitching in pain.
De La Rosa said his arm feels the way it did at the start of last season, but he insists it isn't a cause to worry.
"My arm is great, but right now I know how to handle that," De La Rosa said. "Last year, I was excited because of how I felt, but I understand it better now."
As Spring Training was closing, Rockies manager Walt Weiss said De La Rosa's return to face the Giants on April 14 was the "absolute best-case scenario" that he didn't want to count on, but he was more optimistic Monday.
"If all things go well in that start [Thursday], I don't see him having to make another one," Weiss said.
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.