Better late than never, the real De La Rosa surfaces

Better late than never, the real De La Rosa surfaces

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Maybe Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa needed to be close enough to Opening Day to feel it. Maybe he needed to see the Giants.

Whatever the reason, De La Rosa shook off a distracted performance in his previous start and wrapped up his Spring Training by striking out seven and giving up three hits and one walk in six scoreless innings against the Giants on Wednesday afternoon at Scottsdale Stadium.

De La Rosa tends to pitch well against the Giants (8-4, 3.90 ERA in 19 career games, 15 starts), but his fastball-changeup combination Wednesday would have worked against anyone.

Wednesday's work dropped his final spring ERA more than three runs, to 5.44. De La Rosa demonstrated that his stuff and focus were where they need to be, with the season opening Monday night at Miami.

"To finish throwing like this gives you a lot of confidence," De La Rosa said. "I'll try to take that into my next game and keep doing the things I did today."

It was far different from De La Rosa's previous start, when he gave up six runs on nine hits and two walks in just three innings of a loss to the Indians. In addition to seeing his pitches have a magnetic pull right into the hitting zone, De La Rosa admitted he lost focus on the signs from catcher Wilin Rosario.

De La Rosa spent much of the spring working on pitching inside, at times to a greater degree than he has at any point of his career. De La Rosa went back to what has worked with him during a career that has produced two 16-win seasons with the Rockies -- 2010 and last season.

"I pitched a lot inside today, but I pitched my game but I pitched the way I was pitching last year," De La Rosa said. "I threw a lot of changeups, and I worked the slider in. Everything was working.

Rosario missed the Wednesday game because of a left calf bruise. De La Rosa had a smooth flow with Michael McKenry, who has big league experience with the Rockies and Pirates and is known for his ability to work with pitchers.

"I hardly shook him off, and he gave me a lot of confidence," De La Rosa said. "I didn't think too much and I got my focus."

McKenry said De La Rosa could grow this year.

"He threw that front-hip sinker to righties," McKenry said. "I had been on him all spring about it.

"He has a changeup that's unhittable, so to speak. You know it's coming and still swing and miss. If he can add that with his cutter, slider and four-seamer, it gives him so much more."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.