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Nearing return, Escalona to work on going long

DENVER -- Rockies right-handed relief pitcher Edgmer Escalona said he reached 97 mph on some of his fastballs Friday night in his first, and possibly only, injury rehab appearance at Triple-A Colorado Springs.

Escalona, who hasn't pitched since June 9 because of right elbow inflammation, struck out two and gave up one hit in 1 1/3 innings in Colorado Springs' 4-2 victory over Tucson.

"I feel like it's the first day of the season; I feel like it's April," Escalona said. "I felt comfortable, threw a lot of strikes and threw very hard. The important thing is I threw strikes, but it's also important that my arm felt good."

Manager Walt Weiss said he would talk with pitching coach Jim Wright to decide whether Escalona needs another rehab appearance.

Escalona will return to his middle relief role, which means he can be called upon to pitch multiple innings. Weiss said he doesn't want to extend Escalona beyond one inning initially, but wants to be able to do that soon. Escalona was more of a one-inning reliever in the past and prefers that, and he said he will have to learn to maintain health and effectiveness. He said he will work harder on cardiovascular fitness and proper eating.

"I don't know what I have to do, but I have to do something," Escalona said. "For me, I feel more comfortable as a short reliever, one inning. That's what I've been doing all my life. Now I'm doing two innings."

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