Outlook: Chacin effective, limits walks and homers

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies pitcher Jhoulys Chacin said if his ailing right shoulder feels good Thursday, he will take a step forward in his rehab program by playing catch. He will still need to build strength to throw bullpen sessions, so his debut in game action is still uncertain.

Chacin said he wants to throw a bullpen session "as soon as I can, but it's not up to me." The Rockies would have to clear him, and the club refuses to rush him -- even if he misses a limited number of starts at the beginning of the season.

When Chacin arrived at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, his shoulder hurt whenever he attempted to graduate from throwing long toss.

In past winters, Chacin played in Venezuela, but he didn't this past year. In late January, he went to Sarasota, Fla., for workouts with former Major League pitcher Wilson Alvarez. Chacin did long toss but did not get on a mound. He attempted bullpen sessions at the Rockies' complex in the Dominican Republic before coming to camp, but he felt pain when playing catch.

Chacin has been shut down from all throwing, even long toss, since Feb. 23. He has spent the time between doing strengthening exercises.

Back in camp, Masset ready to make first appearance

Nick Masset hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2012.

SCOTTSDLAE, Ariz. -- Rockies non-roster righty reliever Nick Masset, fresh from being at home in Florida for the birth of the couple's second daughter, is expected to make his Cactus League debut Thursday against the Mariners.

Masset threw an inning in the Rockies' intrasquad game before flying out to support his wife for what turned out to be 18 hours of labor.

"My wife is a very determined woman, and it worked out that I was able to be out there for the birth of my second daughter," Masset said. "It was definitely a memorable moment, a miracle in itself.

"In this lifestyle, you can't plan out a lot of things. Family definitely comes first, but baseball can get in the way sometimes. Luckily, everyone over here was very supportive."

Masset, 31, hasn't pitched in the Majors since 2011 with the Reds because of shoulder surgery and a later surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome. Masset said while at home with the family, he continued preparation as much as he could. Masset now returns to the task of making sure he's healthy but not risking injury.

"I snuck in a couple days [of throwing] to make sure I stayed on top of it," Masset said. "I didn't have time to work out, but I did some arm exercises when I was sitting in the hospital room, moved around, did some stretching. I snuck out with my agent a couple of days and went and played some catch. I can't take four days off and expect to come back any good, kept my arm sharp.

"This is a great opportunity for me to show that I'm healthy and get back out there and throw competitive pitches."

Chatwood looks to put injuries behind him

Outlook: Chatwood's low ERA may regress in 2014

MESA, Ariz. -- Rockies right-hander Tyler Chatwood wanted a boost of adrenaline in his first Cactus League start Wednesday, and some of it wasn't of his own doing.

The Rockies committed three errors behind Chatwood, but he limited the Cubs to one unearned run in 2 2/3 innings and was removed after throwing 59 pitches. The 24-year-old struck out three and walked two, allowing just one hit.

"You don't want traffic this early in spring, but kind of being in those situations working out of the stretch and working on stuff, it's good," Chatwood said. "But the ultimate goal is to never have that much traffic out there."

Chatwood threw late last week in an intrasquad game, but Wednesday was his first time facing an opponent since a rewarding but painful 2013 season. Chatwood went 8-5 with a 3.15 ERA in 20 Major League starts after beginning the year at Triple-A Colorado Springs.

However, from August through season's end, he dealt with pain and fluid in his right elbow, as well as a left hamstring strain. The hamstring healed with rest, but the elbow required surgery in October to remove a large bone chip.

"I felt 100 percent, and I haven't had any setback since I had the procedure done," Chatwood said. "I don't anticipate anything.

"Last year, it was frustrating, because I felt like I was throwing the ball really well and it would fill up [with fluid] and I couldn't get to the point I wanted to, so it's a procedure I had to get done, and I'm glad I did it."

Manager Walt Weiss said Chatwood has looked healthy.
    
"It's been smooth sailing for Chatty ever since he got here," Weiss said. "Since he's been throwing bullpen [sessions], he hasn't had any problems. It's a good sign."

Chatwood's next step is to increase his workload. He threw 142 innings for the Angels in 2011, when injuries forced him into the rotation, plus 16 Minor League innings. In 2012 with the Rockies, working as a reliever and a starter, he threw 64 2/3 Major League innings and 126 total that year. Last season, he also tossed 34 innings at Triple-A Colorado Springs.

"I felt like last year I was on a good pace before I got hurt, so I if I can start eating up innings and keeping the team in games, that's my main goal," Chatwood said.

Worth noting

• Free-agent righty Rafael Betancourt, the Rockies' closer until an injury-filled 2013 ended for him with elbow surgery, will join camp on Sunday for about 10 days. He'll be examined by the Rockies' staff and continue his rehab work at the Rockies' facility.

• Major snowstorms in the eastern U.S. delayed the delivery of the IsoBlox protective caps, which have been approved for use by Major League pitchers, to the Rockies' complex. Head athletic trainer Keith Dugger said they should be arriving next week. Dugger has consulted with the company, as well as others trying to make pitcher headgear that will be approved by MLB.

• Rockies lefty Franklin Morales, who hopes to earn a rotation spot but will pitch out of the bullpen if not, struck out five and gave up three hits and one run in an 8-2 split-squad victory over Texas at Surprise, Ariz. Two young relievers had big games -- lefty Tyler Matzek struck out three in three scoreless innings, and righty Chad Bettis, who saw time in the Majors last year, struck out two of the three batters he faced in a perfect ninth.

Also, utility infielder Charlie Culberson went 3-for-4 with a first-inning homer off Rangers starter Tommy Hanson, utility infielder Paul Janish was 3-for-4, and outfield competitor Corey Dickerson was 2-for-3 with a triple.

Dickerson is in competition with Charlie Blackmon (1-for-4, triple against the Cubs) for left-handed hitting at-bats in center field. Dickerson played left against the Rangers and has played most of his innings that spring there. He has three innings in center, and Weiss said he'll get more.