De La Rosa wants to use fastball more upon return

De La Rosa wants to use fastball more upon return

DENVER -- Rockies left-handed pitcher Jorge De La Rosa, likely to make one more rehab start before returning from a left groin injury, is bypassing the redemption angle.

Depended on to be the veteran leader of the starting rotation, De La Rosa went 1-3 with a 10.18 ERA in five starts before limping out of an April 26 loss to the Pirates after grounding out in the bottom of the third inning. When he returns, he says his motivation will have nothing to do with proving his status as No. 1 in the rotation.

"I don't pitch to show anybody anything," De La Rosa said Tuesday, a day after throwing four innings for Triple-A Albuquerque on Monday in his first injury rehab assignment. "I pitch to help my team win games. My confidence is still there. I know I didn't do a good job pitching, but it's not because of my confidence."

Neither De La Rosa nor the Rockies thought the injury was causing the poor performance, during which his fastball suffered a slight drop in velocity. He also stopped using the fastball aggressively. While on the disabled list, De La Rosa returned to the team's complex in Scottsdale, where he makes his home, and worked on his delivery.

While Rockies pitching coach Steve Foster has said he could not see a problem with his mechanics, De La Rosa said he was "flying open," meaning his front shoulder was twisting too quickly toward first base. "There was something wrong; I know that my mechanics were not perfect," he said.

De La Rosa's four-seam fastball dipped to a 90.1 mph average, from 91.4 last year and 92.3 in 2013. De La Rosa said that's not a significant enough drop for it to be an issue.

"It's not like I'm old; I just turned 35, so it's not like I'm 40," he said with a bemused smile. "I'm at 90 or 91, not 81 or 82."

He agreed with Foster that he has to go back to using his fastball..He used his four-seam fastball 41.1 percent of the time -- not down much from the previous two years. Before undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012, he used it more than 50 percent of the time. Instead of relying on his cutter and split-finger change, he realizes he has to use the fastball to set up the other pitches.

"The fastball is the best pitch in baseball," De La Rosa said. "I wasn't commanding it, so I went to the other pitches. But I have to get back to using it."

Rehab assignments

Right-handed relievers Jason Motte, who hasn't pitched this season because of a shoulder strain he suffered in Spring Training, and Miguel Castro, who had a 1.50 ERA before being placed on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, have been sent to Triple-A Albuquerque to begin an injury rehab assignment. … Lefty Tyler Matzek, on the disabled list because of performance anxiety, has reported to Class A Modesto for a rehab assignment. Initially, he will be used in matchup situations to get him used to game action.

New mental skills program

The Rockies announced Tuesday that they've hired Douglas Chadwick, Ph.D., as coordinator of mental skills development for the Minor League system. Chadwick has worked as an independent sports performance consultant and for the U.S. Army in several performance enhancement capacities. He also was a lead military intelligence advisor for the U.S. Army in Iraq.

At the Major League level, the Rockies are using Rick Perea as a consultant in mental skills. Perea counts multiple professional sports organizations among his clients.

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.