Hirsh gets first look at live hitting

Hirsh gets first look at live hitting

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Friday's game-conditions preview of right-handed pitcher Jason Hirsh, the Rockies' most anticipated addition, was not seen by many outside the organization.

Hirsh, the key to the December trade that sent former No. 1 starter Jason Jennings to the Astros, threw two scoreless innings, gave up three hits, struck out one and threw a wild pitch in an intrasquad game at Hi Corbett Field.

"I got to kind of get the jitters out early and not get in front of a big crowd that was expecting more than they'd get," Hirsh said. "It's the first time seeing live hitting. I can't complain too much -- something to build on for the next outing."

At some point, fans will get a chance to view Hirsh, 25, who stands tall (6-foot-8) and has stood tall the last two seasons in the Minors, when he earned Pitcher of the Year honors for the Double-A Texas League in 2005 and the Triple-A Pacific Coast League last season. His work on Friday suggests that there's something worth seeing.

Hirsh was especially happy with his changeup, and he made just two bad pitches -- a fastball that Jeff Baker knocked for a first-inning double and a slider to Omar Quintanilla that was flat and wound up going into left field for a single.

The video of Baker's hit highlighted a flaw that Hirsh knew existed but couldn't quite pinpoint. He and pitching coach Bob Apodaca will work at correcting his head positioning during his windup during bullpen sessions.

Still, it all added up to smiles for manager Clint Hurdle.

"It was good to see a kid of that stature out free and easy," Hurdle said. "I got to see him repeat his delivery and his command was probably above-average this early. He threw strikes, was working the ball downhill. He threw some good breaking balls -- he overthrew a couple, but you like what you see."

Hirsh is pleased the Rockies will see him at his best.

Before last spring, Hirsh suffered a pinched sciatic nerve (lower back) and was still struggling during Spring Training, a factor that he believes led to Astros manager Phil Garner not leaving camp with a good impression of him.

Hirsh, however, made the Majors by the end of the year for nine starts and went 3-4 with a 6.04 ERA. After being rocked for 10 runs in 2 2/3 innings against the Reds on the road on Aug. 22, he went 2-2 with a 3.14 ERA.

"Here, I feel healthy. It's the best I've felt in a long time, so it's only a matter of time before my stuff starts coming around," Hirsh said. "Right now, I feel like I've still got to earn a spot on the team. It's not a given. I'm doing everything in my power to show the coaching staff that I deserve to be on the big-league club."

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