Holcomb Fights Back For Rockies

DENVER—Third baseman Darin Holcomb is back at Double-A Tulsa, but with none of the disappointment that comes with repeating a level.

The MVP of the low Class A South Atlantic League with Asheville in 2008, Holcomb vaulted to Double-A Tulsa in 2009 and then never played an inning last year. A back condition known as spondylolisthesis, in which one of the bones of the spine slips out of place onto the vertabra below it and causes nerve pain, kept him out all season.

The back problem began affecting Holcomb when he was a freshman at Gonzaga in 2004, and became acute in spring training last year, sending him to a physical therapy center in Phoenix. There he put in countless hours, beginning in March 2010 and continuing until spring training this year.

"We've all got our fingers crossed," said Tulsa hitting coach Dave Hajek, who worked with Holcomb in 2009 and during a brief stay in the Arizona Fall League following that season. "Any of us that know the extent of his condition, it's concerning. I would hate to ignore it. The guy's worked his butt off to strengthen the area around the problem area and show us that he can hold up, and he has."

Holcomb hit .318/.400/.491 in 2008 at Asheville with 14 homers and a league-leading 102 RBIs. In 2009 at Tulsa, he hit .271/.348/.411 with 13 homers and 52 RBIs as back problems limited him to 128 games.

Holcomb's goal during his lengthy rehab at Fischer was to be able to play at 70-80 percent, figuring that level would allow him to get back on the field and be effective.

"I still have some leg pain and some shooting pains and some hip pain," Holcomb said. "But it's all manageable and controlled. And that's really all I can ask for. My goal and hope is that it stays manageable, and it has been."

Opening Day was a milestone. The Drillers began the season at home, and when Holcomb was introduced and jogged to take his place on the baseline, he said, "A lot of things crossed my mind, but relief was most of it."


• When ace Ubaldo Jimenez was on the disabled list, righthander Greg Reynolds,  recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs, went 1-0, 3.27 for the Rockies in two starts.

• Low Class A Asheville lefty Edwar Cabrera, 23, was 2-1, 3.96 with two walks and 32 strikeouts through 25 innings.