Street to be eased back into closer spot
DENVER -- Huston Street is back, and ready to wait for another save opportunity.
"Eventually he will be the guy pitching the ninth inning because that's what we signed him up for the next three years to do is to pitch the ninth inning," said manager Jim Tracy, who will ease Street back into the closer's role now held by Manny Corpas.
Waiting a week or two for his first save situation is fine with Street.
"The big leagues are the big leagues," Street said. "It doesn't matter if you're throwing in the fifth inning or the 15th inning. Every out matters. Every pitch matters. And you approach it from that frame of reference, it makes pitching the ninth the same as pitching the sixth, pitching the sixth the same as pitching the first.
"The role isn't, but the mentality is the same."
Street, acquired from Oakland in the Matt Holliday trade in November 2008, signed a $22.5 million, three-year contract over the winter after earning 35 saves in 37 chances last season, when he held hitters to a .194 batting average.
He was diagnosed with right shoulder inflammation at the start of spring training and was slated to return from rehab May 25, but he hit a roadblock when his left foot got caught on a minor league mound and he strained his left groin, delaying his return by a month.
"The arm has been there for me and has been solid the whole time," said Street, who completed his final rehab tuneup over the weekend.
Street said he missed the rush of pitching in the big leagues.
"I think the hardest part when you're trying to get ready in the minor leagues is not feeling that little jolt and trying to pitch when you don't feel it," he said. "When you don't feel it, you have to like amp yourself up in different ways.
"I would say pitching up here emotionally is going to be a lot easier than pitching down there."
The Rockies' pitching staff has performed well despite a string of injuries. It's their offense that's been stuck in low gear all season.
Still, they're excited to have their best reliever back in the bullpen, and another important starter on the way. Left-hander Jorge De La Rosa left Denver on Tuesday to start a minor league rehabilitation assignment that he hopes will return him to the Rockies' rotation by July 7.
"That takes a lot of pressure off the hitters because when you have a lot of really good pitching, there's not a lot we have to do," outfielder Carlos Gonzalez said. "At the same time we want to click on all cylinders and be a team that scores runs."
To make room for Street, the Rockies designated right-hander Juan Rincon for assignment.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press