SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Greg Holland threw at between 91 mph and 92 mph in his second simulated of game of spring training, down from 96 mph during his best years with the Kansas City Royals.
“I felt good and the ball was coming out of my hands,” Holland said after Tuesday’s session. “This time of the year you are getting consistent mechanically and still building arm strength. I am not worried about my velocity as far as the goes. I am more worried about how I feel when I release the ball and if everything is working together. Each time has felt better. I was real pleased with it.”
A two-time All-Star, Holland had a 1.21 ERA and 47 saves in 2013 and a 1.44 ERA and 46 saves the following year. He dropped to a 3.83 ERA and 32 saves in 2015 and had surgery that Oct. 2 to repair a torn right ulnar collateral ligament.
“The last couple of years he said his elbow had been bothering him for a while and he was able to pitch through some discomfort,” Rockies manager Buddy Black said. “This year he feels really good as far as the health of his elbow.”
Holland became a free agent in December 2015 when Kansas City failed to offer a 2016 contract, and he agreed in January to a $7 million, one-year deal with Rockies, a a package that includes a $10 million mutual option for 2018 with a $1 million buyout.
Colorado’s bullpen had a big league-worst 5.13 ERA last year and 28 blown saves, tied for third-most in the major leagues. Rockies relievers were 22-29.
“Bullpens can be variable from year to year,” Black said. “Based on the injuries and being not fully healthy were the main contributors last year.”
Under former manager Walt Weiss, the Rockies cycled through three closers last year. All three — left-hander Jake McGee and right-handers Adam Ottavino and right-hander Carlos Estevez — return this year along with veterans Jason Motte and Chad Qualls. Other bullpen candidates include Jordan Lyles, Scott Oberg and Chris Rusin.
Black believes in predetermined roles. Holland is expected to be the closer, with Ottavino next in line, and McGee and Mike Dunn late-inning setup men. Dunn agreed to a $19 million, three-year contract.
“We are kind of stuck 330 feet away in a box so you have to learn what makes people tick,” said Motte, who had a career-high 4.94 ERA in 30 games last year while dealing with shoulder issues. “Some guys have really different personalities and then they get on the mound and they are totally different out there.”
Dunn was 6-1 with a 3.40 ERA in 51 games with the Miami Marlins last season.
“I looked at the team before I got here and I believed in the guys who were here, and that was before Holland signed,” Dunn said. “Adding Holland to it makes it that much better. Injuries and health is a huge factor with bullpens, and that’s where it hit the Rockies last year. It wasn’t like I thought I was the savior. I wanted to be part of that group.”
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