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Chacin struggles in last outing before Classic


PHOENIX -- After a scoreless and efficient two innings in his first Spring Training outing, Jhoulys Chacin suffered a bit of a setback in his second outing -- and his final appearance before leaving to represent Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic for up to 17 days.

Whether the setback is tied to a bruised right toe remains to be seen, though Chacin dismissed the suggestion, explaining he simply let his game unravel Saturday as A's hitters patiently worked counts against him.

"I lost my focus a little bit in the second inning after the walk [to Seth Smith]," Chacin said. "I was just trying to make my pitches. That's what happens when you get behind in counts. If you don't get ahead, you have to throw something in the middle."

It looked plausible that Chacin's wheels came off even earlier in the second. His sore toe has been at its worst when he has to run on his toes, and Brandon Moss, the first batter in the second inning, hit a dribbler to Chacin's right, forcing him to run toward the line to make the play and catch Moss at first. Chacin shook his foot after the play, and proceeded to walk a man and then hit a batter before retiring the next two to escape the inning unscathed.

"He seemed to be okay," manager Walt Weiss said. "We wouldn't have ran him out there if he wasn't. He got his work in. He got in a tough situation there in the third inning. He got in tough counts against the middle of their lineup and ended up getting hurt in that inning, but he's going to be fine."

In the third, he allowed an infield single and a walk before hanging a sinker to Josh Reddick that landed over the center-field fence for a three-run homer.

"I was trying to sink down and away and the ball just stayed in the middle," Chacin said.

It took only 18 pitches for Chacin to throw two innings of one-hit ball during his first Cactus League outing against the Cubs on Tuesday. But he had 18 pitches in the second inning alone Saturday, ending up in the high 40s and leaving in the middle of the third after retiring Yoenis Cespedes with a strikeout.

"My arm's really good," Chacin said. "I was trying a lot of things. Today my changeup was really good. That's the thing I was happy with. I'll just keep working and try to get ready for the season. Everything's good."

The Rockies will be knocking on a wooden rabbit's foot in hopes that when Chacin toes the rubber for Venezuela, he can keep focused on maintaining his form without worrying about his big toe.

"Even though we won't be around him, we'll keep a close eye on him," Weiss said. "We'll be in close contact with Wilson Alvarez, the [Venezuelan] pitching coach.

"I told him to go enjoy it. It's an honor for him to be pitching for his country. It'll be a good experience for him. He'll be pitching in some high pressure games."

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