Chatwood looks to break out with tweaked mechanics

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-hander Tyler Chatwood has spent most of his time in the Majors over the last two seasons relying on talent, but he hopes he has finally developed a reliable enough pitching motion to truly thrive.

Chatwood spent most of 2011 with the Angels (6-11, 4.75 ERA in 27 games, 25 starts), and bounced between the Majors and Minors last season with the Rockies (5-6, 5.43 in 19 games, 12 starts). If he can put into action the mechanical keys that the two rough seasons revealed, he could go from rotation filler to successful big-league starter.

"We started tweaking my windup early in the year," Chatwood said. "Me and Bo [McLaughlin, the Rockies' assistant pitching coach] started working on it throughout the whole year and it started clicking at the end. I started throwing the ball really well. My hands were separating too late, so it was pretty inconsistent. Now my hands are breaking at the right time, and it's a lot more consistent."

From his earliest bullpen sessions last year, the Rockies believed Chatwood, 23, had a bright future if he could spot his fastball properly. They tried to see if he could develop by pitching in relief, but wound up sending him down to work as a starter, and improve that way. By season's end, Chatwood was effective on both sides of the plate and unafraid to pitch inside. The next step is mixing offspeed pitches more effectively.

Chatwood can't do anything about one of the marks against him -- his height. But he said the notion that being roughly 5-foot-10 limits him, actually helps.

"Everybody's going to say something about that, but I feel I'm getting great angle right now, and downhill plane on everything," Chatwood said. "I don't think it's a bad thing. Tim Lincecum is a two-time Cy Young Award winner and he might be a little shorter than me. Roy Oswalt has had a pretty good career as well, and also Tim Hudson. You can name a bunch of guys. Craig Kimbrel from the Braves is not that tall. It's just more fuel to the fire, actually."

If he doesn't make the rotation, Chatwood could contribute in the hybrid middle relief role.

"He's got electric stuff," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "I would imagine over the course of his career he's going to be a candidate for a lot of things."