DENVER -- Even as they put right-hander Tyler Chatwood in the bullpen to start this season, the Rockies planned on him eventually becoming a member of their rotation. The plan sped up Tuesday, when the Rockies sent Chatwood to Triple-A Colorado Springs to work as a starter. Chatwood, at 22 the youngest player on the season-opening roster, went 1-0 with a 5.63 ERA in four relief appearances covering eight innings. He went three innings and gave up one run in earning a save against the Giants on April 11. The Rockies replaced Chatwood with hard-throwing right-hander Edgmer Escalona, who was 2-0 with two saves in five scoreless innings over four appearances at Colorado Springs. Escalona, 25, has appeared in 19 Major League games over the last two seasons and has a 1.71 ERA.
Chatwood made 25 starts and two relief appearances last year with the Angels after injuries forced him into the rotation. The Rockies, who acquired Chatwood for catcher Chris Iannetta over the winter, thought he could be a successful starter, but his inconsistency in Spring Training prevented him from winning a rotation spot. Now, after seeing Chatwood face Major League hitters, manager Jim Tracy said he has a good idea of what improvements he needs to complete his development. Working as a starter, with the between-starts work, can help him make them. Chatwood will start for Colorado Springs on Monday at Las Vegas. "With the delivery things we're trying to work out with him, in the bullpen we're not going to have enough time or the proper type of time," Tracy said. "With this arm, at the age that he's at, it's important that we take special care of that. "In the long run, this is going to work out extremely well. I have every reason to believe that during the course of this six-month journey we're on that Tyler Chatwood is going to resurface and do some special things for this club." The club needs better work from its starters, who have lasted as many as seven innings in just three of their 10 starts. The Rockies went into the season believing they could bring along a young starter in the bullpen, much the way pitchers such as Dan Haren, Johan Santana and Adam Wainwright were handled early in their careers. The work gave Tracy enough information to know exactly what Chatwood needs to correct. "It's a timing issue as far as his delivery is concerned, making sure his balance and [hand] separation are on time together," Tracy said. "This is a fixable thing, and the way you fix it quicker is to get him regular work, a regimented program, a start every fifth day and bullpen sessions between starts." Chatwood welcomed the decision. "Of course I'd rather be helping the team up there, but it's a good opportunity to get back to my routine as a starter," Chatwood said.