PHOENIX -- Rex Brothers is becoming a front-and-center performer. In relief pitching, that means he's working his way into the back of the bullpen.
The 23-year-old rookie right-hander is emerging as the Rockies' primary eighth-inning guy, an important setup role Brothers earned with the command and poise he has shown in his first six weeks as a big leaguer.
"I'm feeling a lot more comfortable in my last couple outings, getting settled into the whole atmosphere of things," Brothers said. "Things are going well, right now."
Upon his early June promotion from Triple-A Colorado Springs, Brothers got his baptism in the middle innings. Success there bolstered both his confidence and that of his manager. Jim Tracy gave him his first eighth inning on July 14, and Brothers has stayed in that role for six consecutive knockout appearances: two hits, no walks, nine strikeouts.
"It's about coming in there and getting the job done when I'm called on," Brothers said. "What that situation is, isn't for me to decide."
Tracy increasingly likes what he is seeing from the 2009 first-round Draft choice. But he refuses to overplay that hand -- precisely because Brothers was the nation's 34th overall pick two years ago. Thus, Brothers had a guaranteed night off on Saturday, after having pitched in the three previous games.
"You have to be mindful of who this kid is, and where he's at from a career standpoint," Tracy said. "He's got the repertoire to get left- and right-handed hitters out. He's a special talent, and needs to be treated and protected, as such.
"At some point, though, you have to remove the reins and take him to the trough, to see if he'll drink the water. He's gaining on that, big time."
It feels that way to Brothers, too.
"Getting into that groove that you can get in when you're comfortable," Brothers said, "has probably been the biggest adjustment."
Well, that and the pink backpack he sports these days as part of his rookie hazing.