Street, Corpas competing for Rockies' closer's job

By: AP
By: AP

Manuel Corpas couldn't stop nibbling last season - on corners with his sharp slider or on postgame pizzas.

The Colorado Rockies reliever realized if he wanted a taste of being a closer again, he had to eliminate both temptations.

So he did just that.

Corpas is svelte this spring, losing more than 20 pounds, and has recaptured the movement on his sinker and slider. His transformation has him in a too-close-to-call competition with new acquisition Huston Street for the closer's role.

Street and Corpas are vying to replace Brian Fuentes, who departed for the Los Angeles Angels in the offseason.

"You have two people that are battling it out who are dominating the strike zone, getting quick outs, getting ground balls," pitching coach Bob Apodaca said. "That's what we've tried to impress upon them. Both have done really, really well."

Corpas has the better stats this spring training, but only because Street had one rough outing as he gave up four earned runs against San Diego in early March.

Since then, the 25-year-old Street has allowed no runs in his last five innings.

Corpas has surrendering one run over six innings of work.

"You never know what's going to happen," said Corpas, who slimmed down to 170 pounds by eliminating late-night eating. "We're both doing well."

That's what's making the decision all the more difficult.

"The best part about this is we're going to be deep in the bullpen," Street said. "We've got a lot of good arms."

Street and Corpas aren't your typical closers, relying more on placement than overpowering stuff. Street has supreme command of the strike zone, Corpas an electric slider.

The one that doesn't get the job will be a middle-inning specialist, along with Taylor Buchholz. It's just not quite as glamorous.

"This would mean a lot," Street said of closing. "That's what I'm fighting for."

The Rockies have been impressed with Street since acquiring him in the deal that sent Matt Holliday to Oakland. Street has challenged hitters, a trait that Apodaca appreciates.

"We want guys who are going to fill that strike zone up with low strikes," Apodaca said.

That's definitely right down Street's alley. He's a closer who's made a living on low strikes. Street had 94 saves in four seasons with the A's, including 37 in 2006.

"That's my goal, to close. But we've got a lot of deserving people," Street said. "We've got Manny, who everybody is talking about."

That's because the movement has returned on his breaking pitches, the motion that baffled hitters in 2007. Corpas converted 19-of-20 saves that year after inheriting the job, propelling the team into the World Series.

The Rockies locked up Corpas to a rich deal before the '08 season, only to have him suddenly slump. The 26-year-old faltered in the closer's role early last year and opened the door for Fuentes, who finished with 30 saves.

Corpas simply became too fickle with his slider, trying to groove the pitch and paint the outside corner. Plus, he was dropping his arm, taking away some of the break.

It got him in all sorts of trouble.

"I tried to throw a slider and it would be double, base hit, home run," said Corpas, who slipped into a middle-inning role last season as he worked on his mechanics. "My slider was really bad, bad, bad."

Apodaca's advice?

Stop nibbling.

"He needed that conviction and confidence," Apodaca said. "Last year he went away from that belief where he said, 'I am coming at the strike zone and you can't hit it very good.' He tried to be finer in the strike zone and missing the zone a lot more."

Not this spring. Now he's in full attack mode.

"I'm throwing better," said Corpas, who pitched for Panama in the World Baseball Classic. "I'm throwing my slider good."

For that, he credits his dedication to a new diet, one that's replaced pizza with fruit and salad. He also mixed in some running and cardio work.

A thinner Corpas now has bite back on his breaking pitches.

"I feel confident. I feel more comfortable," Corpas said. "I'm throwing good again."

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


KKTV firmly believes in freedom of speech for all and we are happy to provide this forum for the community to share opinions and facts. We ask that commenters keep it clean, keep it truthful, stay on topic and be responsible. Comments left here do not necessarily represent the viewpoint of KKTV 11 News.

If you believe that any of the comments on our site are inappropriate or offensive, please tell us by clicking “Report Abuse” and answering the questions that follow. We will review any reported comments promptly.

powered by Disqus
KKTV 520 E. Colorado Colorado Springs, CO 80903 Office: (719) 634-2844 Fax: (719) 632-0808 News Fax: (719) 634-3741
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 41662882 - kktv.com/a?a=41662882