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Masset takes hill vs. Tribe feeling like 'old self'

Masset takes hill vs. Tribe feeling like 'old self'

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The bandage still covered his collarbone area, but on Friday a smile spread across the face of Rockies right-hander Nick Masset.

Masset has not pitched in the Majors since 2011 because of a shoulder injury that required surgery and a thoracic outlet syndrome condition that required surgery to remove an upper rib on the right side. He missed time early in the spring for the birth of a child, and he had recently been out because of surgery last Friday to clear a staph infection that entered where the rib was removed. Before the cleanup surgery, he had thrown one inning in an intrasquad game and one in a Cactus League game.

Finally, Masset made it to the mound Friday, and he gave up a run on two hits and a wild pitch in the fourth inning of a 14-3 loss to the Indians. There might not be enough time for Masset, a non-roster invitee, to earn an Opening Day spot. But Masset, one of the top right-handed setup men while with the Reds before his shoulder injury, has a power arm that could help the Rockies.

"We've been through some trials and tribulations so far this spring -- mostly good with the baby -- and then the staph infection popping up," Masset said. "There's no more staph on the outer surface now. There's no more staph, hopefully, in my body anymore.

"I got to repeat my mechanics, let my pitches work for themselves and shake off the nerves a little bit. Once I got out there, I felt like my old self. You never forget. You prepare yourself mentally and visualize getting hitters out. It's getting out there with the fans. It's a whole different beast when you're pitching in a game."

Masset said he was not sure how quickly he would be Major League-ready. The Rockies have had some younger power pitchers come through, but Masset does not seem worried whether there will be room for him when he is truly ready.

"I might have thought that when I was 21, but now I'm 31, and at this point I can just control what I can do," Masset said. "All I can do is prepare myself to be able to compete and do things I need to do to get hitters out."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. 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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