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Chico ready, Flores isn’t

Mar 6, 2010, 2:44 PM EST

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VIERA, Fla. — We'll get to today's home opener against the Mets in a little while. But first let's address two players coming back from injuries: one who is ready to start appearing in exhibition games, one who isn't.

Matt Chico is slated to throw two innings out of the bullpen tomorrow in Port St. Lucie. It may not seem like that big a deal, but for Chico, the butterflies are already flapping their wings in his stomach, more than 24 hours before he's due to pitch.

"I'm not really nervous, but it's that kind of nervous excitement to be back out there and be able to fight for a spot," he said. "Hopefully I can just go out there and calm myself down once I get out there, get that first pitch out of the way."

This will be the left-hander's first appearance against big-league hitters since May 2008, before he realized the lingering pain in his elbow would require reconstructive surgery. In the nearly two years since Tommy John surgery, Chico has worked his way back, re-learned how to pitch, spent the second half of last season at Class AA Harrisburg and now has returned to big-league camp hoping to win a spot in the Opening Day rotation.

He's already turned a lot of heads this spring. His arm 100 percent healthy for the first time in years, he's throwing harder than ever before and with no limitations. At the moment, he said his fastball is probably in the 87 mph range, but it was topping 90 mph at the end of last season and he hopes it will be back to that level by the end of thisRead more ยป

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