SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Jorge De La Rosa found his confidence and command for the Colorado Rockies before their game against a Kansas City Royals split squad was rained out after four innings Friday night.
Making a comeback from Tommy John surgery, De La Rosa allowed one hit over three innings in 48-degree weather. The left-hander mixed his pitches effectively, using a slider and changeup to go with his fastball. He retired nine of the 11 hitters he faced.
De La Rosa, who turns 32 next month, struggled in three late September starts last season following surgery and again in his first two outings this spring. He won 16 games and struck out 193 batters for Colorado in 2009, and the Rockies hope he can return to that form this year.
"I felt much more comfortable on the mound and better about my mechanics," said De La Rosa, who threw 28 of his 50 pitches for strikes. "Today I knew what I was doing. The last (two) starts, I wasn't in sync at all. It's been a long time since I've thrown against hitters and I was all over the place. We've been working on things, getting back to when before I was hurt. So we'll keep doing that and hopefully I can keep pitching like this."
Colorado manager Walt Weiss said steady progress for De La Rosa is all the Rockies are looking for.
"He hasn't been out there very much the last year and a half," Weiss said. "We're not expecting perfection in early March.
"I liked the changeups he threw tonight. It's a good pitch for him, and if he gets confidence and command in throwing it, that will make him a lot better. Missing all that time, there are a lot of things going through his head, trying to get back to where he was before he got hurt. He's dealing with a lot."
Colorado led 3-1 when the game was called after four innings. Todd Helton drove in two runs with an RBI groundout and a sacrifice fly for the Rockies. Michael Cuddyer pushed across another run with a groundout.
Elliot Johnson doubled and scored on Billy Butler's sacrifice fly for the Royals.
NOTES: The Royals scratched Wade Davis from his scheduled start Saturday against the Giants. Kansas City manager Ned Yost said Davis is experiencing some shoulder soreness and is being held out as a precaution. ... LHP Noel Arguelles, a Cuban defector who was given a $6.9 million bonus in 2010, was among the first cuts by Kansas City. Arguelles, who had shoulder surgery and missed the 2010 season, has an 8-19 record with a 4.92 ERA in 46 minor league starts. He was optioned to Double-A Northwest Arkansas. ... The Royals also assigned LHP Ryan Verdugo, RHP Sugar Ray Marimon and C Julio Rodriguez to minor league camp. Verdugo, a Pacific Coast League All-Star last season, made one start for Kansas City last year, giving up six runs over 1 2-3 innings in a July 17 loss to Seattle. The Royals, who had two exhibition games rained out Friday, have 57 players left in camp.