Chatwood eases concerns with strong spring

Rockies righty has not pitched in Majors in nearly two years

Chatwood eases concerns with strong spring

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-handed pitcher Tyler Chatwood provided one of the brightest and potentially most meaningful moments of Spring Training away from the eyes of the fans, and even outside of the gaze of manager Walt Weiss.

On March 29, in his final tuneup game, Chatwood -- completing a comeback from a right elbow injury that cost him most of the last two seasons -- pitched in a Triple-A game against the Angels and went seven innings on just 84 pitches. He gave up one run on three hits.

The Rockies thought Chatwood, who last pitched in the Majors on April 29, 2014, and underwent Tommy John surgery that July, was healthy but needed to see him work through a Spring Training to make sure. He was solid in five official Cactus League appearances (1-0, 3.21 ERA), but never went more than four innings.

The start against the Angels didn't count on his official ledger, but was meaningful nonetheless. The Triple-A lineup was sprinkled with big leaguers who were taking advantage of a chance for extra preparation. Weiss said he is using "common sense" with Chatwood's workload, but Chatwood showed that the Rockies don't have to be fearful.

"My biggest thing was I wanted to mix everything up early, and I did that, and throw everything for a strike," Chatwood said. "Just getting ahead and being able to mix it up was pretty good."

It was important to Chatwood to work through the seventh.

"I knew they only wanted me to go six, but I lobbied to go seven, just to get my pitch count up and get that feel for getting that deep in a game," Chatwood said. "That's one of the hardest things, just getting a feel for it trying to be able to repeat it. I was able to go out there, and I think I only threw eight pitches in the seventh, which was really good."

Before the injury, Chatwood was 14-11 with a 4.05 ERA in 43 games (36 starts) since joining the Rockies in a trade with the Angels for catcher Chris Iannetta. At Coors, he was 10-4, 3.92, in 22 games, 18 starts. If he can resume that type of pitching, he could join Jorge De La Rosa, with a 48-16 (.750 winning percentage) as starters who aren't adversely affected by Coors Field.

Knowing that Chatwood is the type that you never have to say "sic 'em," but have to be ready to say "woah" to, the Rockies decided to schedule his 2016 debut at Arizona on Wednesday. But he is looking forward to being counted upon, especially at home.

"Everybody gets that persona that it's Coors Field," Chatwood said. "But the way I approach it is if you make pitches, you're going to get your outs. Minimize baserunners by limiting walks. It's the same game. It's just about making pitches.

"It's been a long time. I'm excited to get back with my teammates and compete again."

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.