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Matzek clears first Spring Training hurdle

Tosses live BP in return from '15 performance anxiety
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Rockies tried not to make a big deal of left-hander Tyler Matzek's first time facing hitters in Spring Training. The crowd around the batting cage was at a minimum.

Coaches -- but not manager Walt Weiss, who was on another field watching Tyler Chatwood's first "live batting-practice session" -- watched and took notes, but not with any more intensity than they watched others throw. But coming off a year in which Matzek pitched his way out of the Majors in five starts and for a time didn't pitch while he dealt with what was diagnosed with performance anxiety, there was some understandable interest.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Rockies tried not to make a big deal of left-hander Tyler Matzek's first time facing hitters in Spring Training. The crowd around the batting cage was at a minimum.

Coaches -- but not manager Walt Weiss, who was on another field watching Tyler Chatwood's first "live batting-practice session" -- watched and took notes, but not with any more intensity than they watched others throw. But coming off a year in which Matzek pitched his way out of the Majors in five starts and for a time didn't pitch while he dealt with what was diagnosed with performance anxiety, there was some understandable interest.

Rockies Spring Training info

Ultimately, there were some good pitches, including swing-and-miss sliders in the dirt, and some fastballs up high. As far as anyone knows, it was a typical first "live BP." After that, Spring Training and the season say way more than Matzek or anyone can say now.

Video: ARI@COL: Matzek gets out of a bases-loaded jam

Matzek went 6-11 with a 4.05 ERA in 20 games (19 starts) as a rookie in 2014 and sparked expectations by finishing 4-2, 1.55 in his final six. Last year, he went 2-1, 4.09 in those five starts, but with 19 walks and three hit batters in 22 innings it was clear the Rockies had to send him down. After some awful outings and some time off, Matzek finished the year on a good note with relief work at Triple-A Albuquerque.

Matzek, 25, a first-round pick in 2009, didn't see Tuesday as a major event.

"I faced some hitters at the end of last year in Albuquerque, so it wasn't that big of a hurdle for me," Matzek said. "It was nice to get them in there. You always get anxious, always get nervous seeing a hitter ... after throwing bullpens to just a catcher. It was just a normal kind of thing.

"I try not to think about it, but I understand they want to see what's going on with me, how I'm doing. They care. But they want me to succeed just like everybody else."

Worth noting

• Chatwood, who last pitched in a regular-season game on April 29, 2014, used Tuesday to work on a cut fastball, a new pitch he added in hopes of finding a less-stressful pitch than his old breaking ball. He is working with bullpen coach Darren Holmes to give the pitch a couple of different actions.

"It's something that's new to me," Chatwood said. "You get in there and don't want the hitter to hit it. But essentially it's a contact pitch, and that's something you want them to do -- you want them to just miss the barrel on it. That's something I'm going to have to work on.

"But you can manipulate it. I'm working with Holmesie, so if I wanted to make it [the break] bigger or smaller -- I threw one today that was a good swing-and-miss pitch."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Colorado Rockies, Tyler Chatwood, Tyler Matzek