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Oberg trying to translate '15 into season-long role

Reliever focused on using last season as springboard
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Call 2015 an accelerated learning program for Rockies right-handed relief pitcher Scott Oberg.

After missing much of 2014 at the Double-A level because of right shoulder surgery -- a minor operation, as shoulder surgeries go -- Oberg pitched impressively enough last spring to put himself in line for Major League work. He was promoted from Triple-A Albuquerque on April 14 and appeared in 64 Major League games (3-4, one save, 5.09 ERA) over three big league callups.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Call 2015 an accelerated learning program for Rockies right-handed relief pitcher Scott Oberg.

After missing much of 2014 at the Double-A level because of right shoulder surgery -- a minor operation, as shoulder surgeries go -- Oberg pitched impressively enough last spring to put himself in line for Major League work. He was promoted from Triple-A Albuquerque on April 14 and appeared in 64 Major League games (3-4, one save, 5.09 ERA) over three big league callups.

"I definitely learned the hard way of things not to do and things to do better coming into this season," Oberg said. "I'm just taking all those experiences, good and bad, and just applying them to this upcoming season."

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Oberg, who turns 26 on March 13, hopes to convert last season's ups and downs into a spot on the Opening Day roster. The quest will begin Wednesday. Wanting Oberg to face a representative Major League lineup, manager Walt Weiss has made him the starter in Wednesday's Spring Training opener against the D-backs.

Rookie righty Jon Gray, who is competing for a rotation spot, will follow Oberg for his scheduled two innings.

Oberg pitched scoreless ball in 48 of his 64 appearances, and stranded 31 of 39 inherited runners to rank 10th in the National League. Oberg displayed a fastball around 95 mph and rarely made mistakes with his slider. Rough outings, however, occurred when he didn't have his fastball to get hitters off the slider, changeup and curve.

Oberg said the lesson wasn't complicated.

"The one thing that really jumped out to me was I definitely have to sharpen up the fastball command, but in the games when I was throwing strikes, I was able to see that what I bring plays at that level," Oberg said. "That gives me confidence moving forward. I can use the pitches that I have."

Oberg had a major role in last year's bullpen, which became extremely young after Adam Ottavino was injured early, John Axford (now with the Athletics) struggled in the middle and LaTroy Hawkins was traded to the Blue Jays late. The Rockies beefed up the experience this offseason by adding righties Jason Motte and Chad Qualls and lefty Jake McGee.

It means Oberg will need a solid spring showing to keep a Major League job, but he looks at the additions as pluses rather than sources of stress.

"Nothing is guaranteed, but I'm looking forward to getting to know these guys more, picking their brains," Oberg said. "All three of them have had a lot of success."

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, Scott Oberg