Chatwood moves forward in battle for fifth spot

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-hander Tyler Chatwood put an end to an experiment with his delivery and moved forward in his bid to earn a spot on the season-opening pitching staff.

Chatwood held the D-backs to one run and four mostly soft hits in four innings of the Rockies' 4-3 victory at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. He struck out two against one walk, and eight of his outs were on balls hit along the ground.

"What I worked on in between starts kind of clicked," Chatwood said. "I was pausing before, just to maintain my balance. But I felt like I couldn't get in a rhythm, so it was more fluid motion with my leg kick."

Chatwood is officially in a group of pitchers -- along with righty Chris Volstad and lefty Christian Friedrich, provided he has enough time after missing early games with a back issue -- who are competing for the fifth spot. However, lefty Drew Pomeranz has been electric early in the spring. Manager Walt Weiss said it's too early to hand the spot to Pomeranz, but he has "done well for himself."

For now, it looks as if four of the five starters are Jhoulys Chacin, Jeff Francis, Jorge De La Rosa and Juan Nicasio, with the order to be determined, although the team also could look to make a deal to shore up its starters.

"I've started my whole career, so I'd like to start, but whatever role they see me in that would help the team most is what I'm ready to do," Chatwood said.

Tuesday's outing wasn't perfect, but the key was the way he worked through the imperfections.

"His misses were more near-misses, and they weren't up," Weiss said.

Chatwood, who has a 4.50 ERA in Cactus League play, began last season in the bullpen, but soon was sent down to build up to a starter's pitch count. Difficulty throwing strikes early in counts made being a reliever unfeasible. Chatwood said he is better prepared if that becomes his job.

"Last year, I really had no experience coming out of the 'pen," he said. "I have the attitude of going out there trying to get outs right away, rather than trying to settle into the game."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.