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NEW YORK (AP) — Stuck in their worst slump of the season, the last thing the Colorado Rockies needed was an injury to a starting pitcher.
Tyler Chatwood left his outing with a strained right calf Saturday night after getting only one out in a wild first inning against the New York Mets.
The right-hander walked three of the five batters he faced and gave up Jay Bruce's three-run homer. After throwing just five of 19 pitches for strikes, he was checked on the mound by manager Bud Black and a trainer. Chatwood made three wide practice pitches and was replaced by lefty Chris Rusin, who was given all the time he needed to warm up on the mound.
"It became apparent that he wasn't going to be able to fight through it, so that's why we took him out," Black said .
Chatwood said his right calf began bothering him in the bullpen warming up, but he tried to pitch through it.
"I couldn't get the ball down. I couldn't push off of it, so I was essentially using all arm, which isn't ideal for a guy who's had two Tommy John (operations)," Chatwood said after Colorado lost 9-3. "I thought we needed innings tonight and I was trying to provide some of it, but I didn't do a very good job of that at all."
Chatwood missed the 2015 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He had been healthy this year, though, throwing 106 innings over 18 starts.
"We have some ideas of what we want to do with our pitching, but with the Chatwood situation, things might change," Black said. "You have to be ready for anything and this puts us in a little bit of a spot where we might have to make some adjustments."
Black said it's too early to tell how long Chatwood might be sidelined.
"These calf strains," the manager explained, "these are a little tricky."
Poor control is nothing new for the 27-year-old Chatwood, who began the night leading the majors with 57 walks. He is 6-11 with a 4.74 ERA, leaving him tied with Boston right-hander Rick Porcello — last year's AL Cy Young Award winner — for the most losses in the majors.
Chatwood has lost four straight starts and is winless in his last six since beating the Chicago Cubs 4-1 on June 8.
The struggling Rockies have a 5 1/2-game lead for the second NL wild card but have lost 15 of 20 overall.
Chatwood's early exit stressed Colorado's bullpen again after starter Jon Gray lasted only two-plus innings in a 14-2 defeat the night before. With the Rockies trailing 8-0, rookie left-hander Kyle Freeland entered in the fourth for his first relief appearance as a professional.
"I was on alert pretty early," he said. "It was definitely a new experience for me. I did it a few times in spring training my first year and a couple of times this past spring training, so I kind of knew what to expect and how to routine plan — but that's spring training. It's kind of a different animal when you're up here really competing for wins."
Freeland fared well, tossing three hitless innings with four strikeouts and a walk.
"Sort of got things back in order, so that was good to see," Black said. "Kyle's ready. He's ready for anything to help us win."
In his previous outing, Freeland took a no-hit bid into the ninth inning Sunday against the Chicago White Sox before Melky Cabrera singled with one out. Freeland threw a career-high 126 pitches — the most by a Rockies starter in seven years and most by any major league rookie since 2011, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
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