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Masset back in Majors for first time since 2011

DENVER -- Even as the Rockies built a 19-14 record, a need for a solid, experienced reliever has emerged. Right-hander Nick Masset joined the team Monday after beginning the year at Triple-A Colorado Springs, and will have a chance to prove that they had one all along.

Masset, who turns 32 on May 17, was one of the National League's top righty setup men with the Reds from joining them in 2008 until suffering a right shoulder injury in 2011. Recovery from that surgery plus another operation to correct a pulmonary embolism kept him out of the Majors in 2012 and off the mound at any level in 2013.

Masset signed a Minor League contract in the offseason, but was set back by a staph infection in the shoulder area during Spring Training and needed time at Colorado Springs to build his arm. In eight scoreless appearances covering 7 2/3 innings, Masset struck out nine against one hit and one walk.

Manager Walt Weiss plans to ease Masset into action at first. But if truly healthy, Masset gives the Rockies a late-inning reliever who, like lefty Boone Logan and righties Matt Belisle and LaTroy Hawkins, has experience in playoffs and playoff races.

"It's tough when you're out for a couple of years and you're not pitching, and you're almost a little worried if it's going to come back," Masset said. "I was trying to find myself a little bit in Spring Training, trying to figure out what I need to do to get my stuff working, if my arm is going to be at full speed. It took a little time, but I feel like my old self.

"I'm turning my governor off and putting it in gear."

Masset broke in with the Rangers in 2006 -- he was called up for the first time while the team was at Coors Field -- and pitched for the White Sox from 2007-08 before being traded to the Reds. In Cincinnati, he pitched in 231 games 2009-11 and appeared in the 2010 National League Division Series.

"This is a great story," Weiss said. "This guy has fought through some tough stuff to get back. I know this has got to be an exciting time for Nick. He's got to have a great sense of accomplishment getting through what he's had to fight through.

"He's been in the heat of the battle in the National League, been in pennant races helping to close out games in the bullpen. We felt it was a steal."

The Rockies optioned left-handed hitting corner infielder Ryan Wheeler, who went 2-for-4 with a home run in two games during a brief promotion, to Colorado Springs. The Rockies also cleared room on the 40-man Major League roster by moving right-handed pitcher Tyler Chatwood, who is 6-8 weeks from even throwing because of a right flexor tendon strain, to the 60-day disabled list.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. Teddy Cahill is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill.
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