Rockies’ Hammel works with more confidence in 2010 |

Rockies’ Hammel works with more confidence in 2010

Jim Armstrong
The Denver Post

SURPRISE, Ariz. – Let’s get to the bottom line right here at the top: Jason Hammel won 10 games in 2009 and plans on winning considerably more this season.

“It’s tough to put a number on it, but I do want to improve on the 10,” Hammel said. “I would be disappointed in myself if I wasn’t able to match 13 or 15. I really do feel I can do that for this team. Definitely.”

Call it a prediction, but it’s more like a reflection of Hammel’s confidence level this year compared to 2009, when he lost out on the No. 5 starter job in Tampa Bay and was traded to the Rockies in early April for a marginal prospect, pitcher Aneury Rodriguez. Don’t look now, but that deal is shaping up as one of Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd’s greatest heists.

“When you’re comfortable, it’s a different monster,” Hammel said. “I came over here, and they welcomed me with open arms. I’m very confident right now, and confidence is a whole new world. It’s not just confidence. It’s knowing they’re backing me.

“I’m so comfortable here, it really helps you put all that side stuff out of your head. It’s huge being able to come in and work on things knowing if I make a mistake here or there, it’s not going to cost me my job.”

Hammel hasn’t made many mistakes in Arizona. His record after four outings: 2-0, 1.93 ERA, 14 innings, 13 hits. Oh, and no walks. Zero. Zip. Nada.

Hammel may be the poster boy for the solid depth the Rockies have developed in their rotation. He was their No. 5 starter in 2009, when they had five pitchers win in double digits for the first time in franchise history. But he hasn’t looked the part of a bottom-of-the-rotation starter this spring.

“He just continues to impress,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. “It seems like each and every time out, his pitches get a little sharper and sharper. He’s taken another major step forward as far as where he’s trying to get as a major- league pitcher. He’s taking all the necessary

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strides in the right direction.”

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