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New father Chacin focuses on strong sophomore season

The Sports Xchange
Roster Report · New father Chacin focuses on strong sophomore season · Notes, Quotes

The Rockies are hoping Jhoulys Chacin can build on his 2010 finish when he begins his 2011 season Tuesday with a start against the Dodgers.

As a rookie last year, Chacin, 23, went 9-11 with a 3.28 ERA in 28 games, including 21 starts. He allowed 114 hits and 61 walks in 137 1/3 innings, and he struck out 138. Chacin set franchise rookie records for most strikeouts and lowest ERA by a starter.

But it was what Chacin did for the Rockies for the balance of the 2010 season after being recalled Aug. 17 that was truly eye-opening. In his final eight starts, Chacin went 4-2 with a 1.44 ERA. He walked 18 walks and struck out 45 while holding opponents to a .217 (39-for-180) average in that span.

During his two tours with the Rockies last season, Chacin had mixed success against the Dodgers. On May 8 at Dodger Stadium, he held them scoreless for 7 1/3 innings and won 8-0. But on May 30 at Coors Field, he took the loss in a 4-3 defeat, allowing four runs, three earned, in 5 1/3 innings.

When he was called up Aug. 17, Chacin started that night at Dodger Stadium and lost 6-0, giving up five runs and five walks in five innings. But he beat the Dodgers on Aug. 28 at Coors Field, pitching 7 2/3 scoreless innings in the Rockies 5-3 win. In his final 2010 start, Sept. 29 against the Dodgers at Coors Field, Chacin lost 7-6, as he allowed seven runs, two earned, and four hits in five innings.

Chacin, who is from Maracaibo, Venezuela, spent the winter in Tucson with his girlfriend, Alba Iratorza. The couple's first child, Niccole, was born Dec. 1, giving Chacin the added responsibilities of fatherhood as he tries to establish himself in the big leagues. To that end, Chacin, with advice from Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez, was more cognizant of his nutrition and adhered to a training regimen that included the proper amount of running and agility work.

"Pitching in the big leagues, that was my dream," Chacin said. "Now I know it's more. It's not just me and my teammates. I want to do it for my family. That feels really good."

Chacin is making $419,000 this year, just over the $414,000 minimum salary in the majors. He has the mound presence and stuff, in particular a fastball with average velocity but plus movement, a superb changeup and improved breaking pitches, to earn millions and be a mainstay for seasons to come in the Rockies rotation. But the first step is to build on his rookie season.

"I really appreciate the coaches and everybody," Chacin said. "They take care of me and show confidence. I just want to do the job. Last year was pretty good, and I helped the team, but I want to help the team win more games, win the playoffs and win the World Series."

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AVGCharlie Blackmon , CF.331
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