Adam Ottavino said he didn’t sleep much on Friday night, knowing that Saturday would be another step toward returning to the Colorado Rockies bullpen.
Ottavino, Colorado’s closer until he needed Tommy John surgery in April of 2015, took that next step on a sunny Saturday morning at Coors Field, throwing live batting practice for the first time since undergoing the surgery.
The 30-year-old right-hander threw 21 pitches, some of them coming against Colorado legend and current Rockies special assistant Vinny Castilla. Castilla seemed to come out of the cage talking to Colorado manager Walt Weiss and others about the movement and velocity Ottavino had on his pitches.
“I’m sure it looked real firm to Vinny. It’s been a while for him,” Weiss laughed. “I commend him for getting in there. He was throwing hard. There was a lot of life. Looked pretty much like it always has.”
For Ottavino, the session went as expected.
“I felt good. It was cool,” he said. “I haven’t seen a hitter in there in a while. It was nice to be able to gauge where to throw my pitches a little better. I had fun.”
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Castilla and others didn’t make much contact on Ottavino’s pitches but the reliever warned against reading too much into that.
“It’s nice but I’m facing a bullpen catcher and a coach,” Ottavino smiled. “I threw everything the way I would’ve thrown it (in a game). I was pleased. I just try to make pitches.”
Ottavino said getting back against live competition gave him a chance to measure where his pitches were and what needed to be worked on next. He was 1-0 with three saves and a 0.00 ERA in 10.1 innings of work in 2015 when he suffered the injury.
“It feels different because, especially with my breaking ball, I can throw it at the hitter a little bit and gauge the break and where it started from,” Ottavino said. “I’m not imagining a hitter in there. The break was pretty good. I threw strikes. That’s all that matters.”
Both Ottavino and Weiss said Saturday was a good step, but there was still more to be done before he would officially step back on the mound for the Rockies.
“I didn’t have the adrenaline like I would’ve had if I was in the game but I was letting it go,” Adam Ottavino said. “I think I have two more of these (batting practices) and then we’ll talk about me going out somewhere. We’ll see.
“It’s just a matter of time now. I just need a little more practice. I’m not worried about my elbow. I just need to practice to get as sharp as I can so, when I do come back, I can pitch well.”