Chacin Wields Swing-And-Miss Arsenal
DENVER—In spring training, Rockies manager Jim Tracy recalled seeing righthander Jhoulys Chacin make good Cubs and Phillies hitters take weak swings at his secondary pitches during August relief appearances.
"But he was not commanding his fastball last year," Tracy said. "This guy really understands the importance of pounding the strike zone when he has an arsenal of secondary pitches like he has. He'll put himself in great position very, very quickly if he does that, because his movement in the hitting area is exceptional."
Very quickly as in the first weekend in May. That's when Chacin, 22, made his first 2010 start for the Rockies and the second of his career. They had a season-high three-game losing streak and needed a win to avoid a three-game sweep at San Francisco. Their starters had pitched just 25 innings in the previous six games.
Up stepped Chacin with his first win in the majors. He allowed one hit in seven scoreless innings, walked three and struck out seven in Colorado's 4-1 victory.
"He's one of those guys who has that late movement that every hitter that faces him thinks they've drawn a bead on him," Tracy said of Chacin, who signed with the Rockies out of Venezuela in 2004.
"And right there at the point of no return, where you've got to swing, the ball changes a plane and it's a misfire for the hitter."
In spring training, when the Rockies sent Chacin to Triple-A Colorado Springs, they told him to focus on throwing strikes with his fastball and his exceptional changeup.
In four starts there, Chacin went 3-0, 1.69 with 21 strikeouts in 21 innings.
But 11 walks indicated there was work to be done.
Regardless, when injuries wracked their rotation, the Rockies promoted Chacin.
Jason Hammel was close to returning, along with lefthander Jeff Francis, who began the season on the disabled list.
But given the struggles of lefthander Greg Smith, there could be a spot in the rotation for Chacin, regardless of when Hammel and Francis come back.
"That's out of my control," Chacin said. "All I want to do right now is help this team win."
• Lefthanded reliever Matt Reynolds had no walks and 17 strikeouts while beginning the season with 10 scoreless outings covering 13 innings at Colorado Springs.
• Elbow soreness landed Double-A Tulsa lefthander Christian Friedrich, 0-1, 2.81, and Colorado Springs righthander Samuel Deduno, 2-1, 3.66, on the disabled list.