Colorado Rockies reliever Carlos Estevez has yet to take the hill this season but he is hoping the time he has been unable to contribute is drawing to a close.
Estevez threw live batting practice on Monday and showed no ill effects from the strained left oblique that first flared up in spring training and has kept him from playing for the Rockies this season.
In a chat with Rox Pile on Tuesday inside the Rockies clubhouse, Estevez said he feels “back on track.” That’s a great sign for a struggling Rockies bullpen that could desperately use some good news.
"“It felt good,” Estevez said of Monday’s live session. “It feels good to get on the mound after two months. It felt really good seeing hitters and getting back on track.”"
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Estevez said he didn’t know an exact timetable for his return and the plans to ramp him back up to playing shape. However, he did have a best guess on what that might look like.
"“I’m going to sit with the coaches and trainers and we’ll see what happens from there,” Estevez said. “I don’t think it’s going to be that long. I’ve been throwing a lot of bullpens and I’ve already thrown a live BP. I’ll get a few outings, maybe a rehab assignment or whatever it might be. I know I still have maybe two weeks.”"
Since debuting with the Rockies in 2016, Estevez has pieced together an 8-7 record with a 5.36 ERA. He recorded 11 saves in 2016, taking over as the team closer for a stretch, and went 5-0 with a 5.57 ERA last season in 35 appearances, striking out 31 while walking 14.
Colorado manager Bud Black liked what he saw from his 25-year-old right-hander and that there were no setbacks.
"“The takeaway for me is that he feels good today,” Black said. “He exhibited a lot of effort. He turned the ball loose. He threw all his pitches. Afterwards, he felt fine and today he feels fine.”"
Black also believes that Estevez will be an important piece of the Rockies bullpen once he returns from his injury.
"“When it comes down to it, on winning teams, everyone is key,” Black said. “Let’s say (Wade) Davis gets a save. The next night, he gets a save. The next night, he might be down. To win that game, someone else has to get that save if it’s a close game.“If we have a lead and we’re in the middle stages, then the other guys, like Carlos Estevez, have to pitch well. If we win, after the game, I say, ‘The bullpen is doing great. Everybody is contributing. All of them. That’s why we’ve won eight of nine or 15 out of 18. Because they’re all contributing.’”"
For now, though, Estevez has to sit by and watch as Colorado’s relievers have currently a Major League Baseball-worst 5.75 ERA. He says he would love to be able to contribute but believes the day is coming soon.
"“It sucks. It’s just part of an injury, you know,” Estevez said. “It gets really tough seeing the team playing out there. Sometimes you think what you could do. It gets hard, but it’s good to be here with the guys.”"