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49-year-old Moyer earns spot in Rockies rotation

Jamie Moyer, at 49 years old, has made it back in the big leagues.

Moyer earned a spot in the Colorado Rockies' rotation and will start the team's second game of the season.

"It is still Jamie Moyer. It's the Jamie Moyer that was pitching prior to the arm injury that cost him the entire 2011 season. It's the same guy," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said Friday before the team's spring training game against the Texas Rangers at Salt River Fields.

"It's the same worker. It's the same professional. It's the same stuff, same velocity, same pitches. When he's right, same type of effectiveness. You're going to venture into this."

Moyer, who is entering his 25th major league season, posted a 2.77 ERA this spring and beat out 22-year-old Tyler Chatwood and 28-year-old Guillermo Moscoso for a rotation spot.

"I was excited. I'm happy. I'm honored," Moyer said. "But in the end, like Jim said, 'You earned it.' That was my goal coming here."

Moyer will start April 7 against the Houston Astros. He can become the oldest pitcher in major league history to earn a victory.

The last player to play in the majors at 49 years old was infielder Julio Franco, who finished out the season with the Braves in 2007 after turning 49 in August.

Moyer will be 50 in November.

The left-hander will follow right-hander Jeremy Guthrie in the rotation and precede right-handers Juan Nicasio and Jhoulys Chacin, who will pitch the home opener April 9 against the San Francisco Giants.

In a move that could save the bullpen in case Moyer has a short outing, he will start after Guthrie, an innings eater who has pitched more than 200 innings each of the last three seasons.

With an off day on April 10, the Rockies will open the season with a four-man rotation. Left-hander Drew Pomeranz will join the rotation and make his first start April 15.

Pomeranz was optioned to Triple-A on Friday.

Moyer missed the 2011 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. By returning to the majors, he will be the active leader in victories (267), innings (4,020) and starts (628). In his last season, he went 9-9 with a 4.84 ERA with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2010.

"It's an opportunity, and I think it's a great opportunity to try to take it and run with it," Moyer said. "I've looked as my whole career as an opportunity, especially as I've gotten older."

Moyer's last start was Wednesday against the Chicago White Sox. He had to work out of trouble and threw 89 pitches in four innings, allowing three runs and seven hits, with three walks.

The following day, Moyer was experiencing normal leg stiffness and displayed "no red flags," Tracy said.

"I think he can still be very, very effective," Tracy said. "He has incredible know-how. He's an incredible pitch maker. When he's right, he can carve a strike zone up."

Tracy informed Moyer of his decision Friday afternoon.

Moyer thanked him. "I stopped him right there and said, 'Thank you is not necessary because we don't give handouts here. Your professionalism and the way you've handled yourself is immensely appreciated,'" Tracy said.

"He earned it."

Moyer has a career record of 267-204 with a 4.24 ERA. He was an All-Star in 2003 with the Seattle Mariners, and he made his major league debut on June 16, 1986 with the Chicago Cubs.

In corresponding roster moves, the Rockies optioned Pomeranz and Moscoso to Triple-A and reassigned catcher Wilkin Castillo and outfielder Andrew Brown to minor-league camp.

To help limit the 23-year-old's innings, Pomeranz will begin the season in the minors and make a start April 10 before joining the Rockies on April 15.