Chatwood tweaks changeup during rehab

Rockies righty says he's nearing return from back injury

Chatwood tweaks changeup during rehab

LOS ANGELES -- Fresh from a successful injury rehab start, Rockies right-hander Tyler Chatwood said Friday he is ready to return from a back injury. 

Chatwood (8-4, 3.15 ERA in 14 starts) sustained a back strain during a June 18 start at Miami. Manager Walt Weiss said club officials will meet after Friday's game to discuss Chatwood and lefty closer Jake McGee, who threw a scoreless inning for Modesto Thursday and expects to be ready to return from left knee inflammation that he suffered June 10.

"I didn't have any back pain or anything, which was the biggest part," said Chatwood, who threw 67 pitches over six one-hit innings for Class A Advanced Modesto against Bakersfield on Thursday night. "I felt good enough yesterday, and I feel good enough to be back. I don't know what day but that's the plan for now."

Chatwood, whose 1.25 ERA in seven road starts leads Major League pitchers who are qualified to be listed among ERA leaders, would be an easy fit Tuesday at San Francisco. It would be the turn of righty Eddie Butler, but Butler has a 12.34 ERA in his last three appearances (two starts).

As if the Modesto hitters weren't overmatched simply because they were facing a Major Leaguer, Chatwood further frustrated them by unveiling a new changeup grip and expanding its use.

"That was one of my focuses, to implement that more," Chatwood said. "I normally don't throw it to righties, so I threw it to righties. It was big for me to see how they swung at that."

Weiss also said righty reliever Adam Ottavino, who hasn't pitched in the Majors since April 25, 2015, before he underwent Tommy John surgery, is not as close to a return as Chatwood and McGee, but the time is approaching. Ottavino has made eight Minor League appearances (0-1, 7.11 ERA), and gave up runs in two of them.

Also lefty Chris Rusin, who hasn't pitched since June 8 -- when he held the Dodgers scoreless on three hits in six innings of a 1-0 victory -- is slated for his first bullpen session since the injury either Saturday or Sunday.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for since 2002. 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.