Sullivan Changes Roles For Rockies
SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ.—After an eternally long wait caused by three arm operations, righthander Josh Sullivan finally reached big league camp for the first time. Not as a starter, which he had been since the Rockies drafted him in the fifth round in 2005, but as a reliever.
The Rockies discussed a role change early in the offseason when Sullivan, a minor league free agent, decided to stay with the organization that had stuck with him when he had shoulder surgery in October 2005, elbow surgery to transpose a nerve in April 2008 and finally Tommy John surgery in March 2009.
He returned from the most recent surgery in June 2010 and pitched at the high Class A level for the first time. Through 2010, Sullivan had pitched just 180 professional innings. The half season in 2010 allowed him to prepare normally for 2011, and he worked a career-high 118 innings while going 5-9, 5.51 at Double-A Tulsa.
"Last year was a great step forward and we hope that by doing what we're doing, have him take another step," farm director Jeff Bridich said. "It's never been stuff with this guy. It's been health. From both a career progression standpoint and a pitch and pitchability progression standpoint, it's just been so marred by injury that it's tough to draw any confident conclusions about what he is or what he isn't."
Now 27, Sullivan will have a chance to gain knowledge about all facets of relieving from Matt Belisle, who began his career as a starter, and Rafael Betancourt, two veterans who like Sullivan have an exemplary work ethic.
• In addition to Sullivan, other homegrown non-roster players in their first big league camp include righthanders Chad Bettis, Stephen Dodson and Rob Scahill; catcher Lars Davis; third baseman Nolan Arenado; and outfielder Kent Matthes.
• Lefthander Justin Edwards, 24, signed a minor league contract. He went 4-8, 4.89 at Double-A Birmingham last season and was released by the White Sox in January.