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Rockies expect Street to push Corpas

Rockies expect Street to push Corpas

LAS VEGAS -- The longer the Rockies have right-handed reliever Huston Street, the more they like the idea of actually keeping him to push Manuel Corpas, who is trying to regain the closer job and his 2007 form.

The Rockies obtained Street from the Athletics in the Matt Holliday trade, but let it be known they were taking offers. However, the Rockies set a high asking price and no deal has materialized.

An SI.com report on Wednesday mentioned Street as a possible target for the Mets, who need a setup man for newly signed closer Francisco Rodriguez. But the story appeared after two days of Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd saying the Rockies aren't actively shopping Street and his presence is beneficial.

The trade gives the Rockies two closer types with something to prove.

Street struggled through a hip flexor injury and eventually lost the closer job with the Athletics, but he was strong in his final 17 outings as a setup man.

Corpas went through a pratfall and lost the closer job to Brian Fuentes less than a month into last season. Corpas was strong in July and August before stumbling again in September.

With Fuentes becoming a free agent, Corpas seemed set to move back into the closer role. But the Holliday trade, in which the Rockies also received left-handed starting pitcher Greg Smith and outfield prospect Carlos Gonzalez, gave the Rockies another option.

It's also a message to Corpas, 26, who became closer at midseason of 2007 and was a key cog in the Rockies' run to the National League title. Corpas signed a four-year-deal worth $8.025 million during Spring Training, but the warning signs of a decline were present at that time.

"I think he came into camp heavy and I don't think he ever got himself in great physical shape," O'Dowd said. "I don't think in the spring he worked on getting his two main pitches locked in, and he started experimenting with the changeup. I don't think he ever truly had his sinker.

"I think he tried to force that instead of making it happen. I don't think he was right all year."

O'Dowd noted that Corpas, who received a hero's welcome in his native Panama after the 2007 World Series, has spent much of the winter working out at Coors Field. He'll pitch for Panama in the World Baseball Classic, as he did in 2006, so he'll be involved in competitive games early.

By inspiring Corpas' offseason preparation, it's possible that trading for Street has helped the Rockies even though he has yet to throw a pitch in purple pinstripes. Unless O'Dowd gets an offer that blows him away, the Rockies will see how much he can actually help them on the mound.

"We know that Street will come in shape," O'Dowd said. "That will be a good competition."

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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