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Tracy keeping eye on Street's health

Tracy keeping eye on Street's health

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Tracy keeping eye on Street's health
DENVER -- Rockies closer Huston Street is listed at 6 feet tall and 190 pounds. That's generous. But however big he is, he puts every inch and every ounce into his innings. His current commercial for a fantasy baseball product, in which he is in a tub full of ice, isn't far from reality. His throwing shoulder and push-off leg are wrapped in pounds of ice after each outing.

Knowing all that -- and realizing that his injury history includes not only a couple of shoulder injuries, but groin, thigh and chest strains -- do you wonder how he holds up throughout a season?

If so, well ... someone has to, right? Injuries don't concern him much. Partly for that reason, manager Jim Tracy monitors him closely. Tracy has not used him more than two days in a row -- although it remains to be seen if he would be used in a save situation Monday night against the Giants in the opener of a key three-game series at Coors Field. Tracy has made him unavailable after high pitch-count days.

"You want to pitch a lot," Street said. "Every time you step out on the field, you're at risk. You're playing the most intense level of baseball on the planet. It's risk-reward, and I'd take that all day long. If your body could handle pitching every day, I'd do it, even if it did require a little bit of soreness and a little bit of pain."

Street pitched in 10 of the Rockies' first 15 games, for a total of 11 1/3 innings, including a three-inning stint for a no-decision in a 14-inning, 4-3 loss to the Pirates on April 8.

Some games have been dominating. He converted three straight saves of 12, 12 and 14 pitches. Some have been just plain odd, like saves of 32 and 27 pitches during the Rockies' season-opening homestand, and an appearance last week against the Mets where he threw 30 pitches, managed one out and had to be rescued by Matt Lindstrom.

Tracy said he will monitor Street's appearances and pitch counts and will not use him for multiple innings, unless there is an odd game like the one against the Pirates.

But he balances health concerns with the fact Street is a closer and simply needs the ball, the way a running back in football needs his carries even though there are obvious risks.

"I treat him as a closer," Tracy said. "What we've seen is very similar to the 2009 version of Huston Street [when he converted 35 of 37 save chances]. I'm positive that the three innings of work caught up with him a little bit in New York. As a result of what we saw, we backed off of him for a couple of days. But that's all.

"Don't look for me to be looking for four- or five-out saves in April, through May and into early June. That becomes overkill. You have to be conscientious about the use factor early in the season, so if you want to ride him a little bit, you wait until later down the road. But you've got to take care of him between now and then to even think about that."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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