SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies reliever Greg Holland has gradually felt his timing improve in the relaxed atmosphere of a simulated game, and he isn't far from testing his surgically-repaired right elbow in a Cactus League game.Holland, who missed last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in October 2015 while with
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies reliever Greg Holland has gradually felt his timing improve in the relaxed atmosphere of a simulated game, and he isn't far from testing his surgically-repaired right elbow in a Cactus League game.
Holland, who missed last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in October 2015 while with the Royals, threw roughly 25 pitches against Minor League hitters on Monday. Rockies manager Bud Black said it's likely Holland will have another simulated game before possibly entering Cactus League action.
Holland's fastball was at 91-92 mph -- a bit below the 96 range he showed while earning 125 saves from 2013-15 -- but it's not concerning to him, considering it's early in spring and there is a lack of game intensity. He also had solid action on his slider.
"I really haven't been paying that much attention to it," Holland said of the radar readings. "I felt good.
"This time of year, you're still getting more consistent mechanically, and still building arm strength and stuff. So I'm not worried about my velocity as far as that goes. I'm more worried about how I feel when I release the ball, if everything is working together and the ball's coming out, spinning true. It's been really good the last two outings."
Black said the next simulated game will be more game-like, with a defense behind him. After that, Black said Holland could potentially throw in "seven or eight games" before the regular season begins.
• Right-handed-hitting utility candidate Pat Valaika, who homered twice in Monday's 10-9 win over the Dodgers, has impressed the Rockies' staff, not only this spring, but also in the Arizona Fall League last year.
"Just doing my homework, talking to our scouts and reading scouting reports and other guys who come across him," Black said. "It's good to see that in the future he could be a guy that fits somewhere on a big league club."
• Left-handed-hitting outfielder/first baseman Jordan Patterson, who made his Major League debut last season (8-for-18, two RBIs in 10 games), has performed well so far this spring with four doubles and two home runs in his first 10 games. The 6-foot-4 Patterson hit 14 homers at Triple-A Albuquerque last season, tying a career high for his professional career, and could be growing into his power.
"I wanted to be consistent and refine some things, and work hard," Patterson said. "For me, I never want to take away my ability to really hit. I feel my power will come at some point, and it has come in streaks and samples. You have five better swings, and you're hitting 20 every year. It's more consistent swings and repeating what you do."
• Righty reliever Miguel Castro threw three wild pitches during the Dodgers' five-run eighth inning on Monday.
"He looked out of whack, and he just couldn't reel it back together," Black said.
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**.