Rockies Want Matzek In Command

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ.—Tyler Matzek spent his first professional season last year at low Class A Asheville, where hitters did less damage to the lefthander than he did to himself. For Matzek, who signed too late to play in 2009 after the Rockies took him 11th overall in the draft, it was a journey into the unknown, which won't be the case again this year.

"I'm ready to go out and show what I can do," Matzek said.

"Last season was definitely a learning experience. This season, there's no excuses. I got to get out there, and I'm going to do what I can do and I'm not going to be surprised by anything."

Matzek, 20, again trained at Athletes' Performance in Carson, Calif., but he began working out Nov. 1 rather than the start of January and put in one or two more sessions per week this winter.

Matzek, who began last year with seven weeks in extended spring training to limit his innings, went 5-1, 2.92 at Asheville, holding opponents to a .204 average. He struck out 88 in 89 innings, but he allowed the same number of walks (62) as hits in 18 starts, and did so all with a limit of 85 pitches.

The Rockies want Matzek to mix in his changeup, a pitch he used infrequently last season. Most of all, they want his fastball command to improve so he can consistently throw low strikes.

Matzek's fastball command in spring training largely will determine whether he returns to Asheville or begins this season at high Class A Modesto.

"Because when you get to that level and you start getting into Double-A," farm director Marc Gustafson said, "we want to really make sure that you can get that fastball over and incorporate the changeup. Because if you're just going up there and trying to throw it by everybody, that's not going to work at the levels up above."


• The Rockies signed Stephen Head, the Indians' second-round pick in the 2005 draft, as a lefthanded pitcher out of a tryout camp in Scottsdale, Ariz. The 27-year-old pitched 210 innings in college at Mississippi. Head reached Triple-A as a first baseman/outfielder in 2009 but played in the independent Frontier League last year, primarily as a hitter. He also pitched nine innings.

• Family reasons forced reliever Ricky Testa, 23, to retire. He went 2-2, 2.40 in 29 games last year at short-season Tri-City with six walks and 51 strikeouts in 49 innings.