Oswalt looks to regain strength in next start

Oswalt looks to regain strength in next start

Oswalt looks to regain strength in next start

SAN FRANCISCO -- Veteran Rockies right-hander Roy Oswalt hopes he can maintain command throughout his time on the mound Friday night, when he starts against the D-backs at Chase Field.

Oswalt, 36, suffered a left hamstring strain while pitching against the D-backs on July 7. On Sunday, in his first game in the Majors since then, Oswalt threw 3 1/3 relief innings and gave up five runs in a loss to the Padres. He gave up one run in his first three innings, and the next four runs came after he gave up two walks and two hits in five batters.

Oswalt did have a rehab start at Rookie-level Grand Junction in which he threw 55 pitches. The outing against the Padres was 66 pitches.

"It's a little different, the Pioneer League and the big leagues," Oswalt said. "My command was a little bit off when I went out for my fourth inning [against the Padres]. I'm hoping to get 60-65 pitches and maybe get into the fifth inning."

Pitching coach Jim Wright said, "Maybe it was my fault. I left him in a little bit longer because I wanted to build him up. But we left him in to the point of fatigue, which is good in some respects. It didn't turn out so well, although it wasn't like he was getting tattooed or anything.

"But he kept control of his stride and I see a guy that's going to make his pitches."

Oswalt didn't sign with the Rockies until May and made four starts before suffering the hamstring injury. The Rockies have him set for three end-of-the-season starts to see if they will bring him back next season. They expect to have four spots set, with lefty Jorge De La Rosa and righties Jhoulys Chacin, Tyler Chatwood and Juan Nicasio.

Re-signing Oswalt or some other solid veterans would mean someone like Chad Bettis, who has made eight big league starts (0-3, 5.02 ERA) since making the jump from Double-A, would have to blow away the Rockies' evaluators to be in the rotation.

Of Oswalt, Wright said, "I still think there's a lot of pitching left in him. He'll be one of the anchors of this staff next year, especially with our young guys -- not that he's going to be a grandfather, but a guy that can lead the way."

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.