Chacon throws himself into the rotation

Chacon throws himself into the rotation

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The Astros pitching staff has collectively done very little this spring to merit praise, but on Wednesday, Shawn Chacon seemingly stopped the proverbial bleeding with a solid five-inning outing.

After the game, manager Cecil Cooper acknowledged that Chacon was pretty much a lock to make the starting rotation.

"At this point I think we have to say he's got to be one of the guys," Cooper said. "The way he's pitched -- he's had one bad inning, I think, the last three times out there."

Chacon was so efficient against the Braves that he had to throw more pitches in the bullpen when he exited. He threw 64 during the game but another 20 or so afterward to reach his goal of 85.

Chacon retired nine of his first 10 batters before allowing three hits in the fourth, and overall, he held the Braves to one run. After giving up five runs over three innings in his previous outing and rating it "G," for "garbage," the right-hander was considerably happier with this showing.

"That's a lot better," Chacon said. "I just pounded the strike zone from the first inning. That's the difference. I had a good changeup tonight, threw the breaking ball for strikes. I didn't get as many ground balls as I'd like, but I'm not complaining at all."

Alyson Footer is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.