SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A smoother delivery has helped hard-throwing Rockies left-hander Rex Brothers, who has thrown seven scoreless innings -- including a perfect fifth inning in Friday's 11-6 loss to the Giants at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
Brothers, the Rockies' primary lefty setup man, came to the Majors in 2011 with a maximum-effort delivery, one that generated power but could work to his disadvantage when he was off. Falling behind hitters became a problem early last season, and Brothers found himself at Triple-A Colorado Springs for four appearances.
The 25-year-old smoothed out his delivery by essentially relaxing throughout his motion and was better when he returned. Brothers finished the year 8-2 with a 3.86 ERA in 52 games, but he was 6-0 with a 3.27 ERA after his return from the Minors.
By keeping his head steadier and not tensing up as much, Brothers said his effort level has gone from an effort level of nine to 10 to about four to five. It hasn't hurt his upper 90s fastball velocity, but quieter body movements have allowed him to keep his motion in line with the plate and not lose sight of the plate because his body is jerking.
"It's been taking it back, so that way it's easier to repeat," said Brothers, who also pitched an inning against the Giants on Thursday night. "That's where I'm going to get my consistency. It's what I struggled with for two or three years, trying to find consistency.
"It started with keeping my head still, but in order to keep my head still, I had to take the effort level down. I'm still doing it, but the intensity is not what it was. Softer is harder, basically, is what it comes to."
Brothers said he was told to avoid tension in his mechanics throughout his career, but it clicked with the influences of veteran Rockies pitchers Matt Belisle and Rafael Betancourt.
"It's one thing to be told, but then it's one thing to feel it and repeat it," Brothers said. "It came a lot from listening to Belisle and Raffy talk about how they approach it, then figuring out what I need to do, so that when my name is called you know what you're going to get."
Finally healthy, Friedrich looks to win roster spot
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies left-hander Christian Friedrich finds he needs to hone his mind as much as his arm as he tries to rebound from missing the first half of Spring Training with a lower back issue.
Friedrich went 5-8 with a 6.17 ERA in 16 starts as a rookie last season before a stress fracture in his back ended his season in July. He sought to win a rotation job this year, but back stiffness set in just before camp.
Finally healthy, Friedrich has pitched twice for five total innings and has given up six runs and three homers. On Friday, the Giants' Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt took him deep, and Friedrich gave up four runs and five hits in three innings of the Rockies' 11-6 loss. Friedrich didn't figure in the decision.
With lefty Drew Pomeranz pitching better with each outing and righty Tyler Chatwood putting up competition for the rotation, it appears Friedrich is more likely headed to Triple-A Colorado Springs to start the season. Between now and then, Friedrich believes he has enough time to prepare to compete.
"Health-wise, everything is 100 percent, but I've got to get back into the rhythm and timing of it," Friedrich said. "It's a little different pace out there and I may have gotten ahead of myself on some hitters, thinking too far ahead of myself instead of a pitch at a time. I've got to work on slowing it down and getting back to execution.
"It's executing the first four pitches in the at-bat instead of having to battle my way back and make it a fastball count."
• Left fielder Carlos Gonzalez parked a home run deep to center Friday afternoon, conservatively estimated at 435 feet, off Giants starter Chris Heston. On Thursday night, catcher Wilin Rosario hit a similarly long-distance homer off Giants ace Matt Cain. It led to an interesting question. Who would win a home run distance contest?
Manager Walt Weiss paused before saying, "I wouldn't bet against CarGo."
• Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who played just 47 games last year because of scar tissue in his left groin, played Thursday night and Friday afternoon with no problems and seems to be showing no ill effects. He is extending himself more to make plays.
The plan is more frequent rest in order to protect the durability of Tulowitzki, who is the most statistically accomplished offensive and defensive shortstop in baseball but is one of the biggest at a position usually reserved for smaller men.
"I don't like to map anything out, really -- I know better -- but we've got a decent idea of what it should look like," Weiss said. "He'll let us know by just the way he's running around and the way he feels. We've had a lot of conversations about that, making sure we're up front with each other on when he needs a break."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.