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5 COLORADO Rockies
Tom Verducci
April 05, 2004
A converted starter fills the void at closer, but will he get leads to protect?
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April 05, 2004

5 Colorado Rockies

A converted starter fills the void at closer, but will he get leads to protect?

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Instead O'Dowd has clipped coupons to patch a rotation with no legit No. 2 starter, never mind a No. 1. Behind nominal ace Shawn Estes (8-11 last year), O'Dowd is trying Jason Jennings, Joe Kennedy, Scott Elarton and Chin-hui Tsao, who combined for all of 22 wins last year and whose lack of recent portfolio seems to make Chacon's conversion all the more curious.

The Rockies converted Chacon partly because they were so closer-phobic last year, when Jose Jimenez lost 10 games and the confidence of his teammates. "It wore us down mentally," first baseman Todd Helton says.

Chacon also has had durability questions—he's never won a game after July in the majors—that gave the Rockies some pause about his long-term future as a starter. So they enrolled him this spring in Goose's School for Closers, bringing former closer Rich Gossage to camp as his private tutor.

"He's talked to me about having that personality that's got to match your stuff," Chacon says. "He said, 'If you've got electric stuff, you've got to have an electric personality. Hitters don't have to fear you, but they have to be leery of you. When you come in they have to think, O.K., this game is over.' "

It took Chacon one week from Hurdle's phone call to come around to the idea of closing. "I didn't want to make a decision about money," he says. "It's best for the team." This, after all, is Denver, where the rules are different for everything from boiling water to sending your best starter to finishing school.

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

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