Rehabbing Ottavino has fun facing hitters

Rehabbing Ottavino has fun facing hitters

DENVER -- Rockies right-handed reliever Adam Ottavino pitched to live batters Saturday morning for the first since he underwent Tommy John surgery last May.

Ottavino threw 21 pitches, mixing his fastball and slider to infielder Cristhian Adames, bullpen catcher Aaron Munoz and special assistant and former Rockies great Vinny Castilla.

"I felt good. It was cool," Ottavino said. "I haven't seen a hitter in there in a while. It was nice just to be able to gauge where to throw my pitches better and have fun."

Ottavino has been throwing since Spring Training, but this was a big step forward for him in the recovery process.

"[I've been thinking about it for] a long time," Ottavino said. "I didn't sleep very good last night just because I was just thinking about it, I was just excited. It's the next step, so whenever you take the next step, it's always exciting."

Ottavino was moved into the closer role last season, throwing 10 1/3 scoreless innings before undergoing surgery, and could provide a big boost to the Colorado bullpen. He still has a few more live bullpen sessions before returning to game action, but he felt good about the movement and command of his pitches.

"It was good," manager Walt Weiss said. "I've seen several of his bullpens in the last couple weeks. I figured he was going to look pretty good."

• Castilla taking batting practice was a welcomed sight for players and coaches alike. He was able to foul off a couple of pitches, which he was happy with after being out of baseball for a decade.

"It looked like he was throwing like 120 mph," Castilla said. "I haven't seen Major League pitching since 2006, so that was a great experience again to feel the rush."

• With players not getting back from Boston on Friday until around 5 a.m. MT and a day game Saturday, Weiss is looking to give players extra days off in the next week, with second baseman DJ LeMahieu getting Saturday off and third baseman Nolan Arenado set to get an off-day soon.

"I'm picking spots for several guys right now," Weiss said. "We're in the midst of a brutal schedule, and the rainout in Pittsburgh really made it even worse.

"We're always sensitive to that, especially here where we play. We look for opportunities to take things off their plate and get them off their feet. We'll continue to do that."

• Catcher Nick Hundley, who was placed on the 15-day DL on May 6 with a strained left oblique, caught Ottavino's live bullpen successfully. Afterward he took ground balls at first base to break up the monotony of the recovery process, but no position change is imminent.

Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.