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Chatwood focuses on curve in spring debut

Special to MLB.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Even better than seeing the return of Tyler Chatwood to the mound at Salt River Fields on Wednesday was seeing Chatwood's curveball back in force. Never mind the fact that every curve he threw bounced in the dirt, according to Chatwood. To hear him and his manager tell it, he meant to do that.

"That's one of the things I worked on this year," Chatwood said of his curve after his outing in the Rockies' 3-1 win over the Padres. "If I was going to miss, miss down with it. They're not good pitches, but that's where I want to miss. I just need to be able to throw that pitch for a strike to be able to set [the low] pitch up the way I want to."

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Even better than seeing the return of Tyler Chatwood to the mound at Salt River Fields on Wednesday was seeing Chatwood's curveball back in force. Never mind the fact that every curve he threw bounced in the dirt, according to Chatwood. To hear him and his manager tell it, he meant to do that.

"That's one of the things I worked on this year," Chatwood said of his curve after his outing in the Rockies' 3-1 win over the Padres. "If I was going to miss, miss down with it. They're not good pitches, but that's where I want to miss. I just need to be able to throw that pitch for a strike to be able to set [the low] pitch up the way I want to."

Chatwood has always thought of his curve as his money pitch, but he neglected it last year, and he's eager to reassert its place in his repertoire.

"I had a two-year layoff and I didn't have a really good feel for it," Chatwood said of his hesitance to use the curve after coming back from an injury last year. "I feel like I've got a pretty good feel for it right now."

Black was pleased to see the emphasis on the pitch and to see Chatwood's early work paying off.

"He's got a good curveball, and he's got to be able to trust it," Black said. "You do that by gaining confidence in Spring Training. Once he gets to that point where he feels good about the outcome when he throws it, it's just another good weapon for him."

Chatwood pitched two innings and allowed one run on two hits and a walk while striking out two. The first batter he faced hit a triple to center after Chatwood got ahead, 0-2, but it was the only Padres runner to score.

"I was nervous today, just like I would be for a regular start," he said of the adrenaline rush that isn't entirely common among veterans when the calendar reads March 1. "I was a little rusty, being my first start for a while. I was really nervous being out there and getting the juices flowing again. You need that feeling, so I enjoy that part of it, and just being able to get out there and compete against another team. That's pretty fun."

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB,com.

Colorado Rockies, Tyler Chatwood