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Holland 'headed in right direction' after Rox 'B' game

MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- For the first few pitches Thursday morning, Rockies closer Greg Holland was feeling the excitement while facing the D-backs in a "B" game on a Minor League field on the Arizona side.

But with two on and one out, suddenly Holland forgot that he was coming off Tommy John right elbow surgery. It was his first time facing hitters in a different uniform since Sept. 18, 2015 -- for the eventual World Series champion Royals against the Tigers -- but nonetheless it was for keeps.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- For the first few pitches Thursday morning, Rockies closer Greg Holland was feeling the excitement while facing the D-backs in a "B" game on a Minor League field on the Arizona side.

But with two on and one out, suddenly Holland forgot that he was coming off Tommy John right elbow surgery. It was his first time facing hitters in a different uniform since Sept. 18, 2015 -- for the eventual World Series champion Royals against the Tigers -- but nonetheless it was for keeps.

"It helps you work on your times to the plate and the stuff that you need to work on -- you don't want the first baserunner to be in the ninth inning of [the first game] during the regular season," said Holland, who escaped with no runs, and left feeling on track for Opening Day. "That was nice.

"It gets you back into the competitive flow, those juices, wondering, 'What am I going to do to get out of this situation?' I was really pleased with that."

Holland's fastball popped at just above 96 mph consistently in 2013 and '14, when he dominated. His velocities dropped in '15, when he pitched through searing pain, but he still was good enough to lead a championship bullpen into September. On Thursday, he sat at 91-92 mph but climbed to 93 under pressure.

The D-backs had two hits off Holland -- one an infield hit, the other a chopper over first base. The other outs were a popup to first and a fly to right. Throughout camp, Holland's concern has been that upper body and lower body are in sync.

"I just know the ball's coming out of my hand well," Holland said. "It was pretty effortless. I didn't feel like I was trying to generate power, so to speak."

Additionally, Holland said he is bouncing back well between outings. Although he doesn't have a schedule, he expects to soon be in Cactus League games. Chances are he'll have seven or so appearances under his belt, although some may be in "B" games or Minor League games, which will have him in regular-season shape.

"I feel really healthy," he said. "The biggest thing is being as consistent as you can be. You're not going to repeat your mechanics every time. I don't care how long you do this. But if you can get as close to perfect as you can, you're going to be successful. I think I'm headed in the right direction."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies, Greg Holland