Holland getting back to routine after Tommy John recovery

After missing '16, potential closer excited to be in Rockies camp

Holland getting back to routine after Tommy John recovery

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Throwing bullpen sessions is the easy part for Rockies relief pitcher -- and probable closer -- Greg Holland. Sure, he missed last year with Tommy John surgery, but he is back in his element.

But when it comes to his day-to-day routine, it's a little fuzzy.

"I'm trying to remember a lot of it, I've had a year off," Holland said, chuckling. "The funny thing is baseball players are creatures of habit. It only bugs me out when I start thinking about what I'm supposed to be doing. I'm like, 'What do I normally do?' But when I walk in and just start doing it, that's when it becomes normal."

Holland was happy to report to camp, and the Rockies are happy to hear that he's moving close to normal.

From 2012-15, Holland regularly dominated the ninth inning for the Royals, and was considered on the short list of the Majors' best closers. Before undergoing surgery in October 2015, and missing the postseason as the Royals won the World Series, Holland had 145 saves over a five-year span. He even managed 32 saves in '15, when his arm hurt while throwing fastballs.

That's a normal the Rockies wouldn't mind having.

Holland on joining Rockies 'pen

After signing a one-year, $7 million deal with incentives and a vesting option for 2018 this offseason, Holland threw his first Spring Training bullpen session Wednesday. But he said he threw "five or six" bullpens in the days leading up to camp opening. And Thursday, as has been the case after each session, he felt fine.

"He's thrown a number of sides and he's felt fine. He threw a number of sides in November coming back from Tommy John," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "Where he is 15 months out of Tommy John and on a nice throwing program and progression, he's in a good spot. He feels good about where he is. Our pitching coaches feel good about it. He is right on the mark."

Eyes will be on how Holland recovers from Spring Training game action, and whether he can throw in consecutive games, or three out of four. He said he will have to pay attention to how he feels, but there will be no change in his repertoire -- a fastball that averaged slightly above 96 mph at its best, which he used about half the time, a slider and a split-finger pitch that batters often swung over.

A healthy Holland pushes power arms Jake McGee from the left and Adam Ottavino and Carlos Estevez from the right -- all of whom closed last year -- to earlier innings. Lefty Mike Dunn, who signed for three years and $19 million, also slots into the late innings.

Holland's place in Rox bullpen

Holland senses a squad quite similar to the Royals coming out of 2013 -- one that barely missed the second American League Wild Card. They pushed the Giants to Game 7 in the 2014 World Series, and prevailed over the Mets for the 2015 title.

"No one really cared if anyone [outside] knew, because everyone in the clubhouse knew we were a good team, and after we got close in '13, that left a sour taste in everyone's mouth," Holland said. "I think it's very similar here -- a young team, very talented roster, guys learning how to become big leaguers and the day-to-day activity and how that can help us in September.

"It's a tight-knit group. A lot of them have been out here for two or three months. That tells you enough right there. These guys are committed to winning and enjoy each other's company and enjoy competition. In the little things, you can see work ethic."

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