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Chatwood embraces role as senior Rox starter

Right-hander allows one run over four innings vs. Cubs on Saturday
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

MESA, Ariz. -- Tyler Chatwood didn't look like a guy carrying the weight of being likely the most experienced pitcher in this year's Rockies rotation on Saturday afternoon.

The right-hander held the Cubs to one run, Kyle Schwarber's third-inning home run, and struck out three in four innings of his team's 4-3 loss at Sloan Park.

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MESA, Ariz. -- Tyler Chatwood didn't look like a guy carrying the weight of being likely the most experienced pitcher in this year's Rockies rotation on Saturday afternoon.

The right-hander held the Cubs to one run, Kyle Schwarber's third-inning home run, and struck out three in four innings of his team's 4-3 loss at Sloan Park.

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Chatwood, 27, entered Spring Training the most experienced starter. When it was revealed that Chad Bettis, who turns 28 in April, will miss the beginning of the season while undergoing chemotherapy for testicular cancer, Chatwood became the Rockies' oldest starter. And at least for now, there isn't a plan to grab more starting experience before the season starts.

But Chatwood, who went 12-9 with a 3.87 ERA last year and had the Majors' lowest road ERA (80 or more innings) at 1.69, said he's in it with those younger pitchers.

For example, Chatwood learned a changeup grip from lefty Tyler Anderson, a rookie last season, and used it for first-inning strikeouts on Saturday against Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist.

"Everybody has their own strength," Chatwood said. "We pick each other's brains. That's what good staffs do -- feed off each other, learn from each other and try to use that to widen your arsenal of pitches."

Chatwood joined the Rockies in a trade with the Angels for catcher Chris Iannetta before the 2012 season. Although he had made 27 appearances, 25 starts, for the Angels, it was with the Rockies that he completed his development. He is an example of the club's program of either developing their pitchers from scratch or obtaining them before they had ingrained big league habits and letting them demystify pitching at altitude.

"Pitching is all about executing your pitch, whether it's a fastball or changeup or whatever," Chatwood said. "As long as you go out there trying to execute your pitch and not trying to pitch to the ballpark, you're going to have success."

Rockies manager Bud Black said after allowing a single to Schwarber to start the game, Chatwood was "really sharp -- changeup was outstanding, fastball had good location after the first couple of guys and he threw a couple good curveballs. He mixed pitches, threw strikes, worked quickly and had a very good outing."

Worth noting

• It was another struggle for reliever Miguel Castro, who yielded eighth-inning homers to Eloy Jimenez and Ian Happ in a three-run frame to take the loss. In his previous outing, Castro threw three wild pitches.

"He seems just uncomfortable, can't get any of his secondary pitches over," Black said. "Seems when things do go against him, it sort of snowballs for him. It's tough for him to get back. He's a good kid, but there's work to be done."

• The Rockies, who have been careful for the last week with catcher Tony Wolters because of a slight hyperextension of the right elbow, had a scare when catcher Tom Murphy was backlashed by Rizzo's bat in the first inning. Schwarber had stolen second but was ordered back to first on batter's interference. More important, Murphy stayed in the game after briefly being attended to by the trainer.

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, Tyler Chatwood