Jorge De La Rosa aims to return from Tommy John surgery in June

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Rockies’ pitching coach Bob Apodaca said last month that the club hopes to have Jorge De La Rosa back from Tommy John surgery in July, but the rehabbing southpaw is aiming to come back even sooner.

De La Rosa resumed facing live hitters in recent weeks and threw 45 pitches Tuesday in a simulated game. While he still has several minor league rehab starts in front of him, he told Troy Renck of the Denver Post yesterday that he is optimistic about his chances of returning in June.

“Of course I am watching!” De La Rosa said from his home in Scottsdale, Ariz., on how he was spending Friday night. “The (simulated game) went well. And (Friday) I threw an aggressive bullpen. I really think I can be back in June.”

De La Rosa posted a 3.51 ERA over 10 starts before going under the knife last June. He is owed $10 million this season while his contract includes an $11 million player option for 2013.

Michael Pineda throws off mound for first time since Tommy John surgery

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According to MLB.com associate reporter Jarrid Denney, right-hander Michael Pineda threw off a mound Wednesday morning at Target Field for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Pineda was signed to a two-year, $10 million free agent contract this winter by the Twins, who are probably more focused on what he might be able to do in 2019 rather than 2018.

He had the reconstructive elbow surgery last July 18, so he won’t be an option for the Minnesota rotation until probably late August or September of this year. Still, that deal seems like a nice gamble given the price point and the possibility that he will regain his form as a No. 2 or No. 3 starter. That he’s making steady progress in his rehab makes the situation all the more encouraging.

Pineda, 29, holds a 4.05 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and 687 strikeouts in 680 career major league innings.