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Chacin eager to win a spot in Padres' rotation

Veteran will also pitch for Venezuela in Classic
Special to MLB.com

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Jhoulys Chacin is hoping old habits die hard as he prepares for his second trip to the World Baseball Classic. Though Team Venezuela exited early in 2013, Chacin came back and had a career season with Colorado, going 14-10 with a 3.47 ERA while pitching 197 1/3 innings.

"[Padres General Manager] A.J. Preller told me that 2013 was the year I pitched in the WBC, and that was my best year, so why not try the same thing again?" Chacin said. "Hopefully, we as Team Venezuela, we go longer, go to the final and win the title. But being with all those group of players is an honor."

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GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Jhoulys Chacin is hoping old habits die hard as he prepares for his second trip to the World Baseball Classic. Though Team Venezuela exited early in 2013, Chacin came back and had a career season with Colorado, going 14-10 with a 3.47 ERA while pitching 197 1/3 innings.

"[Padres General Manager] A.J. Preller told me that 2013 was the year I pitched in the WBC, and that was my best year, so why not try the same thing again?" Chacin said. "Hopefully, we as Team Venezuela, we go longer, go to the final and win the title. But being with all those group of players is an honor."

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Chacin's productivity fell off after 2013, as he played with four teams over the next four seasons, pitching a total of 234 innings with the Rockies (2014), Diamondbacks (2015), Braves (2016), and Angels (2016). The Padres are his fifth team as he starts his ninth season in the big leagues, and he's eager to play a leading role in the starting rotation.

"San Diego told me I have a good opportunity to be in the rotation and a good opportunity to be one of the veteran guys and help the young guys," Chacin said. "That hit me. I know this division, and I've always pitched in this division. I'll be close to home. And I really want to be pitching in Petco."

Chacin's outing against the Indians on Sunday was going smoothly, as he worked two scoreless innings, before he yielded a pair of home runs in his third inning of work.

Surprisingly, Chacin has only pitched four games in San Diego's home park, compiling a 2-1 record and a 3.60 ERA over 15 innings. But for a pitcher who came of age in one of baseball's most hitter-friendly parks at Coors Field, the more to San Diego could have a dramatic effect.

It doesn't hurt that after several years of nursing arm issues, Chacin is starting the spring at full strength.

"Finally, my arm is back to normal," Chacin said. "People told me it would take a year and a half to get back to where I used to be. Last year my velocity came back a little bit more. My arm was healthy all year. I feel like this is going to be a good year for me. I feel healthy. I pitched in Venezuela after the season. My arm is great. Hopefully I can keep healthy and I can help the San Diego Padres to win games."

So far the Padres like what they've seen.

"He was what we expected him to be early on," manager Andy Green said before Sunday's game. "He was sharp, slider was good, he pitched both sides of the plate. He's been great. He's very, very professional. I know him as a competitor, I had him when I was in Arizona the last month of '15, and I loved the way he was wired and competed."

Both Chacin and Green are excited by the dangerous slider in his arsenal, and Green hopes to see him use it even more often, especially against right-handers.

"Fair to say that pitches are successful we want guys to throw more often," Green said. "We're working on altering the pitch mix, but we have a lot of confidence in his slider against anybody that's in the box."

Chacin's good health excites him, and he's hoping for more of the same from his big 2013 season.

"I've got the same pitches, I pitch the same way," he said. "I just want to get back to normal."

Owen Perkins is a contributor for MLB.com.

San Diego Padres, Venezuela, Jhoulys Chacin