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Hammel eager to help Rox as starter

Hammel eager to help as starter

DENVER -- When Jason Hammel makes his first start for the Rockies in Monday's series opener against the Padres, it will be his first big league start in a year. He made five starts for the American League champion Rays last April, but moved to the bullpen when Scott Kazmir returned from the disabled list.

"It's definitely an opportunity," Hammel said of the chance at cracking the Rockies' rotation.

Acquired on April 5 to give the Rockies more pitching depth, he earned his shot at starting when the Rockies' fifth starter, Franklin Morales, went on the DL with a left shoulder strain he suffered in his second start of the season Tuesday.

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"They brought me over here for a reason, and I'm ready to cash that in for them," Hammel said. "I'll do whatever they want me to do. Obviously, I came up as a starter. And I've done the big league starting. I've done it all. I'm happy to get that opportunity again. I've worked really hard to get back there. We'll see what happens."

The 26-year-old right-hander has a four-pitch arsenal, throwing a fastball that clocks in at 90-93 mph, a curveball, a slider and a changegup.

"He's got a fastball with some finish to it, hand high at times," manager Clint Hurdle said of Hammel. "And then he'll work that curveball, when he can throw it for strikes, and he'll dump it like a lot of pitchers late in counts to get swings. It looks hittable, and then it's gone. Now you see it, now you don't. He's got a slider that can be an above average pitch also. He's got some weapons."

Hoping to contribute to a rotation that has struggled of late, Hammel's challenge is to show he can give the Rockies the innings they need. He was used as a starter in Spring Training for the Rays before being traded to the Rockies, so his arm was well-conditioned heading into the season.

"What I'd like to see is for him to give us a quality start," Hurdle said. "If we can get past the fifth and he's got us in a position to win the game, that's what we're looking for. He's geared up to go. He wants to start, and he's going to get the opportunity to."

The challenge has been to stay sharp in a long-relief role. He's put in plenty of side work, but he also addresses his mental sharpness by thinking his way through each batter in a game, preparing himself for the mind-set he'll need on the mound Monday.

"My main goal [Monday] is just to get deep and show them that I've got the arm strength to continue in the rotation," Hammel said. "As of right now, I'm expecting it to be in the starting rotation. This is a great opportunity for me, and a great opportunity for this team, too, because I really think I can help them out."

Pitching matchup
COL: RHP Jason Hammel (0-0, 2.70 ERA)
Many Rockies scouts believe Hammel could be an effective starter. He has made three bullpen appearances this season, the last two of which have been scoreless outings of two innings in length and all of which have been two innings or more. He made the Rockies' longest relief outing of the season in an April 11 loss to Philiadelphia, yielding two earned runs in 2 2/3 innings.

SD: RHP Chris Young (2-0, 3.42 ERA)
Young pitched a two-hitter over seven innings in his last start against the Giants, putting behind him a terrible start in his last outing, but he was shackled with a no-decision as the San Francisco Giants rallied to win it, 1-0, in the bottom of the 10th inning. "I felt good, but I walked too many guys and created a little trouble for myself," Young said. "I had decent command with the fastball. I didn't use the slider early, but it got better as I went along. I'm trying to make good pitches and that's the bottom line." Young walked four and struck out three in his third start in San Francisco, where he has never won and had given up 10 runs in his last 10 2/3 innings. Young retired 10 of the first 12 hitters he faced and was able to pitch himself out of a couple of jams.

Tidbits
Ubaldo Jimenez was frustrated enough with the results from his Saturday start that he didn't want to talk after the game. Feeling better Sunday, he explained that he thought he pitched better than the six runs in four innings would indicate. "I felt really good [Saturday], and I was throwing strikes," Jimenez said. "I started the game throwing a lot of strikes. They seemed to find a way to find holes everywhere. The game before yesterday I wasn't able to throw strikes. Yesterday I was." Hurdle saw the outing a little differently, saying he not only missed, but "missed extreme." ... Dexter Fowler entered Sunday's game fifth among National League rookies with 11 hits. He was 3-for-4 on the day, with his fourth multihit game of the season. ... Brad Hawpe has a five-game hitting streak, and his bases-loaded walk on Sunday gave him a team-high 14 RBIs.

Tickets
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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• FSN

On radio
• KOA 850

Up next
• Tuesday: Rockies (Jorge De La Rosa, 0-2, 3.78) vs. Padres (Josh Geer, 0-0, 4.91), 6:40 p.m. MT
• Wednesday: Rockies (Aaron Cook, 0-1, 8.35) vs. Padres (Kevin Correia, 0-1, 4.50), 1:10 p.m. MT
• Thursday: Off-day

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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