SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Although there have been projections that pitcher Jorge De La Rosa could return from Tommy John surgery as soon as late May, Rockies pitching coach Bob Apodaca says a July return is more realistic.
"For most people coming back from Tommy John surgery, it's 13 or 14 months," Apodaca said Wednesday. "That's the ones who haven't had any issues or had to take a step back.
"Jorge had the surgery in late May last year, so you calculate that and it's sometime in July. That's our hope."
De La Rosa tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow May 24 last season. Nine months later, he's making steady progress.
De La Rosa is scheduled to throw three bullpen sessions this week. The next step is pitching live batting practice and mixing in curveballs with his fastball and changeup.
"BP will probably come in the latter part of spring training," Apodaca said. "He will get into ballgames in extended spring after that. ... I don't think we are in a hurry; when it's his time, he will get back to us."
Waiting has been difficult for De La Rosa, who was tied with Jhoulys Chacin for the team lead in wins (five) and ranked second in in ERA (3.51) at the time of his injury.
"Sometimes I wish I could just go out and throw," said De La Rosa, the Rockies' No. 2 pitcher coming out of spring training last year. "But the Rockies are being very careful about it. So I have to be smart. I have to listen to them."
Apodaca said he understands what De La Rosa is going through.
"You are part of the club, but at the same time you are not really part of the club," he said. "You have to be very self-motivated and it can be a lonely existence. I can see the anxiety in him; I can see it every day. But he's doing well. As I've told him, you can't rush this process or skip a step."
Footnotes. Manager Jim Tracy is meeting individually with the players during spring training. That incudes established veterans such as first baseman Todd Helton and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. The closed-door meetings in Tracy's office are his way of encouraging the Rockies' team-building concept. They also enable Tracy to get to know the new players on the roster. ... Former Rockies pither Shawn Estes, a 15-game winner in 2004, was a visitor to camp Wednesday.
Patrick Saunders: 303-954-1428 or firstname.lastname@example.org