Batista with Rockies to be a workhorse

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Usually, if you mention the word "abuse" to a pitcher, he thinks of appearances in many different roles and the pain that goes with it, then he heads in the other direction. Miguel Batista just laughs and signs the contract.

Batista, who turns 42 on Feb. 19, is with the Rockies under a Minor League contract, hoping to earn a chance to do the same thing he has done during a lengthy Major League career, which began in 1992 and has had him in the Majors every season since 1996.

"This is what they told me," a smiling Batista said. "I'm supposed to be the middle guy who eats up a lot of innings. They have a young pitching staff. They actually told me they needed somebody to take the abuse of throwing two innings today, one inning tomorrow, rest a day, two the next day. They know I've been doing this for many years."

It's the second straight year the Rockies have brought an ageless wonder to camp. Last year, it was Jamie Moyer, who began the season in the starting rotation but could not squeeze much quality out of a 49-year-old arm. In a way, Batista, who went 1-3 with a 4.61 ERA in 35 games (five starts) with the Mets and Braves last season, is every bit as impressive. A starter has a routine involving four games off between appearances. Batista is in his third decade of flowing freely between starting and relief roles.

"It's something a lot of people ask me, but I can't even tell you how I do it," Batista said. "I know a guy who keeps the numbers who tells me I'm probably the best they've ever seen do that. The Yankees had Ramiro Mendoza, but after five years or so, he blew out. I cannot tell you how, but I know I can. That's all I know."