Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

June 6, 2014

Tulsa hurler getting called up to start for Rockies

DENVER — Eddie Butler controls his emotions about as well as he does his pinpoint fastball.

At least outwardly, anyway.

On the eve of his major league debut, the Colorado Rockies' prized pitching prospect hardly showed any traces of tension. The team is bringing Butler up from Double-A Tulsa to pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday and hoping he adds a spark to a scuffling starting rotation.

The 22-year-old is taking it all in stride.

"If I go out there and pitch six innings and have us in the ball game, that's going to be a great day," said Butler, who was 4-4 with a 2.49 ERA with the Drillers this season.

The Rockies made one thing abundantly clear — they're not counting on Butler to swoop in to rescue their season, only to keep them in games.

"He's unflappable," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "Probably already pitched his major league debut in his mind."

Butler sounded more like a veteran than a rookie as he addressed a room full of reporters. Sure, the original call that he was coming up was "a little nerve-wracking," but once he steps onto the mound, he insisted he will be in his comfort zone. He's hardly intimidated by being at hitter friendly Coors Field or throwing against a Dodgers lineup that features hitters such as Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez.

"It's another team. It's another guy in the box," Butler said. "I'm going to attack them and give the guys a chance to win."

Butler made it to the big leagues almost two years to the day since he was taken with the 46th overall pick. That was the timetable in his mind, too.

Right on schedule — and in the nick of time, especially with the rotation banged up. The Rockies placed Jordan Lyles on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with a fractured left hand. They're already missing starters Tyler Chatwood (strained elbow) and Brett Anderson (fractured left index finger).

"I just want to get out here and help the guys win," Butler said.

Expect to control his nerves?

"We're going to find out," he said. "Definitely try to suppress them to an extent, funnel them and make them be a beneficial thing for me."

There's been a lot of hype surrounding Butler as he's risen through the Rockies' farm system. He was 7-1 with a 2.13 ERA at short-season Grand Junction in 2012 and was stellar during stops at three different levels last season, going a combined 9-5 with an organization-best 1.80 ERA.

After a solid spring training, Butler was sent back to Tulsa for more experience.

"It's really come around and that's what's given me the opportunity to be here," he said.

Butler has already glanced ahead at the schedule, to see which team he will face after the Dodgers. Turns out, it's the team he grew up watching — the Atlanta Braves. He counts Greg Maddux and John Smoltz as his boyhood idols.

The low-key Butler pitches more like Maddux, relying on control rather than overpowering stuff.

"He'll take the mound on Friday and expect to do well — that's more than half the battle," Weiss said.

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