Freeland ready for any role to help Rockies

Freeland ready for any role to help Rockies

SAN DIEGO -- Rockies rookie lefty and Denver native Kyle Freeland was 13 during the club's 2007 World Series run and 15 during the next -- and last -- time the club made the postseason. He lets himself dream.

"I kind of envision being in those situations, but we've got business to take care of to get to that point," Freeland said.

Freeland is a versatile option in the season's final days and, the Rockies hope, the postseason.

In 27 starts, Freeland went 11-10 with a 4.03 ERA. But after Freeland was hit in the left shoulder and jaw by a line drive on Sept. 11 at Arizona, manager Bud Black pulled him from the rotation and cited his struggles over his last five outings (0-3, 5.73, 21 strikeouts but 15 walks). Going into the Rockies' game Saturday night against the Padres, Freeland had made one relief appearance -- two scoreless innings with one hit and three strikeouts in a 16-0 victory over the Padres last Saturday.

Black has said he likes the idea of Freeland out of the bullpen. His 55.6 percent ground-ball rate ranks sixth in the National League, and 1.04 double-play grounders per nine innings ranks 11th. The ability to force a grounder could be a weapon in a tight, important game.

Freeland also could return to starting if the need arises in the next few days. Black said after righty Chad Bettis' start Saturday, the Rockies will stay on a regular rotation -- German Marquez on Sunday, then righty Tyler Chatwood, lefty Tyler Anderson and righty Jon Gray, respectively, Monday through Wednesday at home against the Marlins.

But depending on where the Rockies stand when they face the Dodgers next weekend, and possibly depending on Bettis (trying to find his delivery after missing much of the season while batting testicular cancer), it's not out of the question that Freeland could receive a start. Black said the Rockies "don't have any qualms with his pitch count."

"I always want to compete and be a starter because that was what I've always done," Freeland said. "But, being in the bullpen, I've switched that mentality to always being ready for any situation.

"But if they wanted me to start, I'd be ready to go. This little stint in the bullpen as been a little bit of a breather for me. It allowed me to back off a little bit. If my name is called, to make a spot start or get back in the rotation -- I'd be mentally ready."

However he is used, Freeland wants to prove that he can handle it. That includes defeating the problems that crept into his delivery.

"Consistency in my delivery and arm slot is going to help me the most," Freeland said. "It will keep my fastball consistently in the zone. Trying to keep consistency with my body relates to keeping the ball down in the zone."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.