Oswalt's rehab start goes according to plan; GJ Rox get win
Roy Oswalt wanted a test.
It only took three pitches Tuesday night at Suplizio Field for the Colorado Rockies’ right-hander to test his left hamstring.
Jesmuel Valentin grounded a ball to the hole at first base, and Oswalt was sprinting to first. Correlle Prime fielded the ball to his right and tossed to Oswalt for the out as the two laughed about the quick test.
“I told someone it’s like in T-ball, you put the worst player out in right field and the ball goes to him every time,” Oswalt said after his 55-pitch rehab start for the Grand Junction Rockies, a 3-1 win over Ogden.
“It was actually good, I needed to come off the mound and see how that felt. I’ve done it in simulated (games) but in simulated you can kind of pace yourself and not react real quick.
“As soon as the ball went thataway, I was going that way anyway, so that was good. I got another ball to the left side that I got to throw.”
Oswalt said everything in his rehab start went as he had hoped, from working on all of his pitches and pushing his left hamstring, which he strained during his fourth start with the Rockies this season. He’s been out eight weeks.
He said his legs got a little tired in the fifth and sixth innings. He threw 55 pitches, 41 for strikes, and left after giving up a two-out double to Kyle Farmer, who had two of the three hits Oswalt surrendered.
He knew the Raptors would be aggressive at the plate, and knew striking out a bunch of hitters wasn’t what he needed to do. He worked the zone, got ahead of hitters and threw a couple of pitches off the plate.
“I got two guys on in the second and I wanted to pitch out of the stretch some and I was able to get out of it,” he said. “My biggest thing I wasn’t trying to come out here and strike a lot of guys out, I wanted to get deep into the ballgame just to pitch every inning and the repetition of it.”
He had hoped to pitch into the seventh inning, but a second-inning walk cost him a few pitches. He only needed six pitches in the third and seven in the fourth.
In the fifth inning, he threw a 63-mph curve on an 0-2 pitch that buckled designated hitter Justin Chigbogu.
“I heard the announcer say something about the beer inning, so I wanted to strike that guy out,” Oswalt said with a grin. Chigbogu was the beer batter on Tuesday.
“That’s one good thing I’ve learned coming up through the big leagues, you can actually have two pitches in one pitch, one 75-mile-an-hour curveball and one 65, so you have two pitches in one pitch and hold it in one way.
“I was able to slow that one down a little bit and still have the same arm speed just by changing the grip a little bit. I throw it in the big leagues here and there and freeze some guys. It starts so high they kind of give up on it and it floats in there.”
Robbie Perkins caught Oswalt and said he just called for a curve and watched it drop into his glove.
“He wanted to get one over and he knew he’d get the guy on it,” Perkins said. “The catcher will never call that, you just call a curveball and then all of a sudden it’s coming at them at 60 miles an hour.”
Perkins summed up catching his first big-league pitcher in one word:
“Awesome,” he said.
“That’s the best guy I’ve ever caught. It was a great experience. I learned so much from him, I really did. He taught me a lot in just five innings of baseball.”
The Rockies got Oswalt the win by scoring one run in the first inning when Jordan Patterson drew a one-out walk, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on Miguel Dilone’s base hit to right.
They added a run in the seventh when Cesar Galvez singled and eventually scored on a passed ball. After the Raptors picked up a run in the top of the eighth against Blake Shouse, Ryan Garvey got it back with a solo home run to center in the bottom of the inning.
Grand Junction manager Anthony Sanders liked what Oswalt showed his young club, and that his players won their third straight game.
“When I see a zero up there for errors, we’ve got a chance to win every game we play,” he said. “That’s been killing us in the past and we’ve got to stick to our plan and do the little things, catch the ball, throw the ball.”
Oswalt, who just turned 36, hopes to be in the big club’s rotation by Sunday. He said his arm feels as good as it did five years ago, and with more lower-body conditioning to avoid another leg injury, he thinks he can pitch two or three more years.
He was also happy to hear the Grand Junction Rockies had already clinched a playoff spot.
“I’m glad they’re doing well. I didn’t know they were in the playoffs,” he said. “I was hoping tonight wasn’t going to be a game to put them into the playoffs when I came here.”