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With back feeling strong, Chacin will start Sunday

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DENVER -- Rockies right-hander Jhoulys Chacin said he has no issues from his back strain that landed him on the disabled list last month and will be ready to start Sunday -- the day he is eligible to return -- against the Rays at Coors Field.

Chacin was 3-0 with a 1.46 ERA and had thrown 6 1/3 scoreless innings against the D-backs on April 19 when he left that game with the injury. But Chacin rehabbed and cleared a major hurdle Tuesday by throwing 60 pitches and giving up just one run against Angels Minor Leaguers at the team's training complex in Scottsdale, Ariz. Chacin threw a bullpen session Wednesday and rejoined the club Thursday.

"I've fielded ground balls, bunts, everything, and I feel no pain. So everything is good," Chacin said. "I have no problems. I just missed two starts, so I'll do the same thing I was doing -- throw strikes, get hitters out, let the defense help me."

The Rockies entered Friday the surprise early leader in the National League West. But Chacin, who started Opening Day, but unabashedly said his goal this year is to start Game 1 of the World Series, doesn't count himself among the surprised.

"I know the talent that we have, and we're showing it," Chacin said. "We're playing together. Some days we don't hit, but we pitch. Some days we don't pitch well, but we hit. That's how good teams put things together."

Manager Walt Weiss said he is not sure how the Rockies will clear the roster spot for Chacin. Candidates to be sent down to Triple-A Colorado Springs are right-handers Tyler Chatwood and Juan Nicasio. Chatwood came up to replace Chacin and is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two starts. Nicasio is 3-0, but with a 4.91 ERA and has struggled to pitch deep in games.

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.

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