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New Colorado Rockies RHP Brian Schlitter seeking fresh start, big league opportunity

One of the relievers the Colorado Rockies acquired this winter on a minor league deal, Brian Schlitter wants to open eyes this spring.

Colorado Rockies RHP Brian Schlitter seems happy in his new home.
Colorado Rockies RHP Brian Schlitter seems happy in his new home.
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Scottsdale, Ariz. -- When the Colorado Rockies made Brian Schlitter one of their first offseason minor league acquisitions back in early December, Schiltter in turn made the Rockies the first organization that he chose to join in his career. After being drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies, and then bouncing between them, the Chicago Cubs, and New York Yankees on waiver claims, the 30-year-old suburban Chicago native chose Colorado with his first crack at free agency.

For a pitcher joining an organization on a minor league deal, the decision was as simple and one-noted as you'd expect.

"It seemed like a good fit, and I had other options, but ultimately I decided here was best," Schlitter told Purple Row from the Rockies' clubhouse on Thursday morning while filling out his bracket for the NCAA Basketball Tournament with teammate and throwing partner Justin Miller.

"It's an opportunity. It's great. I like it over here, the guys are great, and the front office knows what they’re doing."

Opportunity had been a mixed bag for Schlitter earlier in his big league career; with the Cubs the last eight years, the righty broke through to the big leagues three different times in 2010, 2014, and 2015, but only made more than ten appearances once, when he threw in 61 games two summers ago.

After 311 minor league games, then, even with the lessons learned and experience gained, Schlitter is keen to leave behind the long journey of his past, and look ahead to his future in Colorado.

"It’s a new chapter in my career here, so I try to forget about everything that happened before, and just move forward," he said.

And a mixed bag of results—he's generally been more than proficient in Triple-A, while having his moments of consistency and breakthrough at the big league level amid some struggles—has produced a change in Schlitter, both on-field and mentally. As he continues to refine his pitch repertoire, so too does he pare down his mental checklist.

"It’s spring training so everyone is doing what they can, but I'm just trying to throw strikes and get people out," Schlitter admitted. "Obviously you’re not going to go out and strike everybody out, and right now it’s just time to get ready for the season."

The Rockies haven't shied away from using Schlitter this spring, either; the righty is among the big league team's leaders in Cactus League games pitched, an obvious sign among others that the organization wants a long look at the newcomer this month. And while Schlitter may be a long shot for the bullpen as it stands today, lots will happen over the course of a summer that will undoubtedly provide opportunities to relievers destined to begin the season as organizational depth.

"My goal is to make the team, obviously, but that’s everyone’s goal coming in to camp," Schlitter said. "I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself and just open up some eyes and make an impression."

Perennially as pitching-starved as the Rockies seem to be, perhaps there's no better organization on which to make that impression for a reliever like Brian Schlitter.