DENVER (AP) – Jair Jurrjens was breathing a little easier Saturday after the tightness in his chest turned out to be nothing more than a scare.
The newly acquired Colorado Rockies pitcher was taken to a nearby hospital following his start Friday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers after struggling to catch his breath.
Jurrjens said X-rays and blood work revealed nothing out of the ordinary and his shortness of breath may simply be due to the altitude in the Mile High City.
“Super scary,” said Jurrjens, who made his first big league start in a year. “Every time I wanted to take a deep breath, I wasn’t able to. Just got tighter and tighter.”
The 28-year-old was acquired in a trade with Cincinnati on Wednesday to bolster a Rockies rotation ravaged by injuries and never had time to acclimatize to the thin air.
He began struggling to catch his breath in the second inning, even asking for an oxygen mask to use when he was in the dugout. There wasn’t one, so he said he took a puff from an oxygen inhaler.
It didn’t help. Neither did this: Reaching base on Clayton Kershaw‘s throwing error in the third. That left Jurrjens winded, too. He was quickly picked off by Kershaw.
“I was having problems after my warm-up pitches,” said Jurrjens, who lasted 4 2-3 innings and gave up eight runs. “I took my time, too. That’s why I was standing behind the mound, just trying to get my breath.”
He never contemplated coming out, though.
“I’m not going to make excuses to get out of the game,” he said. “I just need to get used to this (elevation) and that’s it.”
Jurrjens said the thin air at Coors Field never really bothered him when he pitched here while with Atlanta.
Rockies manager Walt Weiss thinks stress may have played a role, too: His pitcher wanting to make a solid impression with his new team in his first major league start since June 29, 2013.
“People react differently when they get here, with the altitude and everything,” Weiss said. “I think that was part of it. Everything was probably moving real fast for him. All of a sudden he was here and starting in a big league game again. I’m sure things were spinning.”
Jurrjens is already working with the Rockies’ strength coach to make sure this doesn’t happen in his next start, scheduled for Wednesday against San Diego.
“It’s amazing how when you go up a few feet, things change,” said Jurrjens, who became the 13th different pitcher Colorado has used this season. “Just need to build up and keep going, get my conditioning ready for this altitude.”
– By Pat Graham, AP Sports Writer
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