Chacin takes step forward in comeback

Chacin takes step forward in comeback

SAN DIEGO -- Rockies right-hander Jhoulys Chacin's 2014 season was lost three months ago, but his push toward 2015 took a major step Tuesday when he scaled the mound for a throwing session.

Chacin threw with his catcher standing in front of the plate. The next step is a full bullpen session Friday in Los Angeles, with an eye toward winter ball in Venezuela. Chacin last pitched on June 28 before the Rockies shut him down with a slight labrum tear and rotator cuff damage. He and the Rockies settled on a strengthening and rehab program rather than surgery.

"I've been really working for two months, strengthening and really working hard," Chacin said. "I've been pain-free and throwing long-toss every day. Today was a really good day for me -- long-toss, flat ground and off the mound. I'm really happy."

Chacin hopes to be healthy enough to be a game-changer next season. He went 14-10 with a 3.47 ERA last year and was expected to lead the staff along with lefty Jorge De La Rosa. But Chacin showed up in Spring Training with a right shoulder strain, didn't pitch in a Major League game until May 4 and was 1-7 with a 5.40 ERA in 11 starts before he and the club decided to try again next year.

Chacin is not sure when he'll make his first start for Caracas in the Venezuelan Winter League. He'll need continued bullpen sessions and simulated games, at a place to be determined, before then. But Chacin is enthusiastic about gearing up for what will be a huge 2015 season.

This will be the final offseason of arbitration for Chacin, who is at the end of a two-year, $6.5 million deal. After next year, he's eligible for free agency for the first time.

"I want to get healthy and be the guy I was before, so I really don't worry about the contract," Chacin said. "I was worried before, especially when my arm was hurting. But now I'm calm, and I am going step by step. I'll get some innings this winter, after I'm 100 percent.

De La Rosa, a friend as well as colleague, signed a two-year, $25 million contract recently.

"I was talking to him [De La Rosa] and he always said, 'I really miss you; when we got together in the past, it was a really good year,'" Chacin said. "I know what I can do when my arm feels fine. I'll definitely be ready for Spring Training."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.