Former first-rounder Drew Pomeranz looks to be back on track for Opening Day following a successful return to the mound Monday afternoon.
The 23-year-old left-hander allowed one run on four hits and a walk while fanning two batters over four innings in the Colorado Rockies' 6-2 Cactus League victory over the Los Angeles Angels in Tempe, Ariz.
The start was Pomeranz's first big league outing in almost two weeks. He was pulled from his previous start against the Los Angeles Dodgers on March 13 after experiencing tightness in his right hip, but he was given the all-clear to make his fourth appearance of the spring after making it through a Minor League rehab game Wednesday unscathed.
"I wasn't as efficient today," Pomeranz told MLB.com. "I was trying to work on staying back, but I was still leaking [forward] a little bit.
"I was just a little up in the zone today, which is why they fouled a lot of pitches off. I didn't command things as well."
Facing Triple-A hitters because the Rockies did not have a Spring Training game scheduled, Pomeranz (2-0) gave up three runs on six hits, struck out two and walked two. His velocity was in the low-90s and he felt no side effects from the glute strain that forced him to miss a spring start.
On Monday, Colorado's top pitching prospect retired the first five batters he faced before surrendering a two-out base hit to Kendrys Morales.
A one-out walk to Chris Iannetta followed by a single to Howard Kendrick in the third frame gave the Angels their first runner in scoring position, but fifth overall pick in the 2010 Draft retired All-Star slugger Albert Pujols for the second time to end the threat.
The Angles tagged MLB.com's No. 24 prospect for a run in the fourth. Torii Hunter led off the inning with a base hit back up the middle, and he advanced to second on Vernon Wells' groundout. Morales then plated Hunter with a single to center field before the University of Mississippi product got an inning-ending double play with his final pitch of the afternoon.
Pomeranz felt the number of pitches he threw helped him. "I threw 85 pitches, but it didn't really feel like it," he told MLB.com. "I feel great. I could have thrown a lot more than that."
The run was the first the left-hander had yielded this year. Pomeranz, acquired in the deal that sent Ubaldo Jimenez to the Cleveland Indians at the trade deadline, worked around a hit and a walk in his spring debut against the Arizona D-backs on March 3, and he spun three scoreless frames against the Kansas City Royals on March 8. When he was taken out of his previous start against the Dodgers, he had retired all six batters he faced.
Pomerenz's outing is welcome news for the Rockies, who may give the Tennessee native a spot on the 25-man roster when the team breaks camp.
A Futures Game selection last summer, Pomeranz recorded a 1.78 in 20 starts across two levels between Class A Advanced Kinston, Double-A Akron and Double-A Tulsa in 2011 before earning a Major League callup. He threw five shutout innings in his Rockies debut Sept. 11 in a 4-1 win against the Cincinnati Reds.
Garrett Richards, the Angels' No. 3 prospect, did not fare so well Monday. The 23-year-old allowed six runs -- four earned -- on seven hits and three walks over 5 1/3 innings. He struck out five batters and fell to 3-1 on the spring.