McGee dominates hitters from both sides of plate

Rockies lefty reliever not afraid to throw fastball inside

McGee dominates hitters from both sides of plate

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies lefty reliever Jake McGee demonstrated Tuesday why manager Walt Weiss can call his name without fretting about who is batting.

McGee, part of the trade that sent outfielder Corey Dickerson to the Rays, breezed through the ninth inning of a 6-2 victory over the Athletics by coaxing a fly to center from Max Muncy in a lefty-on-lefty matchup, then forcing a popup to second base and a grounder to second, respectively, from righty hitters Carson Blair and Josh Whitaker. Last season, McGee held lefties to a .196 average and was nearly as tough on righties -- .200.

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McGee developed his fearless use of his fastball inside on lefties and righties as a starter in the Rays' system.

"Once I was able to pitch inside to righties consistently, and be able to control both sides of the plate, is when I was able to do well against righties," McGee said. "A lot of lefties just stay away from right-handed hitters and stay away from changeups and not go in a lot. I have the ability to throw inside and outside for strikes.

"When I was a starter, I worked on throwing glove side a lot. And my fastball has natural life up and a way to righties, so I get a lot of swings and misses from that. I use that to my advantage."

Rockies add arms to bullpen

McGee said the Rays began thinking of him in a relief role after he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2008. The move would allow him to rely on his fastball, and he saw right away it could be a quicker path to the Majors.

"In 2008, they called up David Price and used him in the bullpen [into the postseason]," McGee said. "So I thought I'd maybe do that.

"In 2010 in August, I was in Double-A starting. They told me they'd move me to the 'pen and put me in Triple-A because they needed some help with left-handed relief in the big leagues. I went to Triple-A in the bullpen the first week in August and I was there until Sept. 14 when I got called up. Once I went to the bullpen, I knew it was right for me."

Betancourt visits

Newly retired reliever Rafael Betancourt visited Rockies camp Tuesday to speak to pitchers, especially relievers. Betancourt was with the club from 2009-15, part of that time as closer.

"Baseball was something I did my whole life, so I want to keep in the game in different ways, trying to help the Rockies," said Betancourt, who said he has talked to general manager Jeff Bridich, but hasn't sought or been offered a specific job.

He peaks all the time

Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado has a .538 spring average, but Weiss isn't worried that he's going to leave his best swing behind when the season begins.

"You always want to peak at the right time, but Nolan's good all the time," Weiss said.


Righty Jeff Hoffman, who threw two scoreless innings against the Reds in his only Cactus League game before being sent to Minor League camp, will return for a start against the Angels on Thursday. Hoffman came over in the Troy Tulowitzki trade with the Blue Jays. Also, righty German Marquez, who arrived with McGee in the Dickerson deal, will start a B game that morning.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.