Torrealba, De La Rosa aim to rekindle past success

Torrealba, De La Rosa aim to rekindle past success

MILWAUKEE -- The Rockies turned back the clock four years Tuesday night, with Yorvit Torrealba catching left-handed pitcher Jorge De La Rosa.

In 2009, Torrealba was a key leader on a team that went to the playoffs and De La Rosa had his best season -- 16-9 with a 4.38 ERA in 185 innings, with 193 strikeouts to 83 walks. It was the year in which he completed his transition from a talented pitcher whose volatility hurt him to a calm professional.

The offense takes a hit anytime the feared Wilin Rosario doesn't start. But with De La Rosa having missed most of the last two seasons because of left elbow surgery, Rockies manager Walt Weiss believes his transition will be smoothed by Torrealba's presence.

"'Torre' connects well with 'De La,' so it just makes sense," Weiss said. "At the same time, I thought Wilin handled himself very well yesterday [2-for-4, handled Jhoulys Chacin's strong 6 2/3 innings in the 5-4 loss in 10 innings]. That was nice to see."

Weiss said he has not committed to always pairing Torrealba and De La Rosa.

Torrealba said the De La Rosa he saw in Spring Training reminded him of the one he caught during that special season. De La Rosa went 1-1 with a 2.84 ERA in four Cactus League appearances and finished up with strong work in a Minor League game. In his first two appearances, he was rusty and looked frustrated, but he found his rhythm the rest of the time in Arizona.

"It's almost the same De La Rosa I saw before, but we're still working on his secondary pitches," Torrealba said. "His fastball has some life to it. He's pitching almost the same way he used to pitch. He showed a good fastball and changeup in Spring Training. So far, so good. We'll see how it's going to be."

Torrealba was a starter for much of his first tour with the Rockies (2006-09) and is moving into a career stage as a backup and mentor. To be effective when called upon, Torrealba said he'll have to do more running and exercise between games. He has played at 223 pounds in the past but feels good at his current 218 and is looking to cut to 215. Even though his role is different, he believes he can contribute to helping the Rockies return to winning.

"It is special," Torrealba said. "The best years I had were in this organization, and the best year they had as an organization [2007, when they went to the World Series] was when I was here. It's special from both ends. I'm sure they are happy with the things I've done here, or at least a couple of the people told me so, and I'm hoping to help us be where we want to be this year.

"I can't wait to go back home, be in front of the home crowd, see familiar faces."

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.