SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Much has been made of the Rockies' lack of a clear No. 1 starter entering Spring Training this week. But they'll also be looking for someone to temporarily fill the No. 2 void left by the absence of Jorge De La Rosa, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery.
De La Rosa, who won five games last season to move into a tie for sixth all-time on the Rockies' career win list, has been throwing bullpen sessions for about a month and a half and hopes to throw to live hitters in the next three weeks.
"The offseason was good," De La Rosa said. "I wasn't a part of the end of the season, so I was already here and I just stayed here working with trainers and the conditioning guys and [my elbow] feels much better now."
The lefty had stints with Milwaukee and Kansas City before settling in nicely with the Rockies in 2008, when he won 10 games. He broke out the following year, setting career highs in every significant pitching category -- including 16 wins -- and ranking second among National League lefties in winning percentage (.640). But he missed two months in 2010 due to a torn pulley tendon in his left middle finger before his injury-shortened season last year.
"One day I woke up and was a little tight, but it was just for one day," he said. "It's normal to feel tight sometimes and that's all I've felt. One bad day, so I feel good."
At the time of his injury -- a complete tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow during a May 24 game against the D-backs -- De La Rosa was tied with Jhoulys Chacin for the team lead in wins (five) and was second in the club in ERA (3.51).
The Rockies are hoping to have him back in June, but De La Rosa is more optimistic about his chances for an early return.
"I think I could be ready in May," De La Rosa said, "but they'll probably want me to spend some time in the Minors to make sure I'm ready."