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Coach still believes in slumping Ottavino, Dunn

Longtime pitcher Holmes understands up, downs of relief work
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- Rockies bullpen coach Darren Holmes can identify with the slumps, and the boos, affecting two key relief pitchers, righty Adam Ottavino and lefty Mike Dunn. And Holmes knows the other side is reachable.

Ottavino and Dunn were heavy contributors to the Rockies' strong start. But Ottavino went into Wednesday night's game against the Reds with a 15.75 ERA and a 1.255 OPS-against in his last 10 games, with 11 hits, eight walks and five homers. Dunn had a 1.17 ERA when he went to the disabled list with back spasms in late April, and has a 7.32 ERA in 26 appearances since. Both were used with the Rockies well behind during Tuesday's 8-1 loss to the Reds.

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DENVER -- Rockies bullpen coach Darren Holmes can identify with the slumps, and the boos, affecting two key relief pitchers, righty Adam Ottavino and lefty Mike Dunn. And Holmes knows the other side is reachable.

Ottavino and Dunn were heavy contributors to the Rockies' strong start. But Ottavino went into Wednesday night's game against the Reds with a 15.75 ERA and a 1.255 OPS-against in his last 10 games, with 11 hits, eight walks and five homers. Dunn had a 1.17 ERA when he went to the disabled list with back spasms in late April, and has a 7.32 ERA in 26 appearances since. Both were used with the Rockies well behind during Tuesday's 8-1 loss to the Reds.

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Holmes lived through rough times in 1998. After good seasons as a primary setup man with the Rockies, Holmes signed with the Yankees to work in middle relief and struggled.

Video: COL@CHC: Dunn induces soft line drive to escape jam

"I started out horrible," Holmes said. "You feel the fans. You feel it yourself, because you're a professional athlete. They have a lot of trust in you. When you're not doing the job, that puts a lot of stress and added pressure on you because you care about the game and you care about your team and about the fans."

But on May 13, 1998, he entered a wild game against the Rangers with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth and the score tied at 13. Holmes escaped that jam, and a week later at home against the Rangers he got key outs from Will Clark and Juan Gonzalez in an 8-6 victory, and "left to a standing ovation."

From July 2 to season's end, he posted a 1.48 ERA in 15 games, covering 24 1/3 innings.

"I've been there 50 times in my career," Holmes said. "The great thing about it is these guys have been great pitchers their whole careers. Great pitchers just don't become bad pitchers. You go through funks. You go through the ups and downs. A lot of times, it's just one game -- it can be one hitter -- that completely changes everything."

Worth noting

• First baseman Mark Reynolds was on a season-worst 0-for-18 run before squeezing out two hits Tuesday. One issue: Manager Bud Black has not been able to give him a day off from the starting lineup. Wednesday marked his 11th straight start, a run that would have been broken had Ian Desmond, the team's other first baseman, not suffered a calf injury Sunday. Gerardo Parra, scheduled to return Friday from a right quadriceps injury if his Triple-A rehab assignment goes well, could play some first base during the weekend series against the White Sox.

Video: COL@SF: LeMahieu talks with coaches, leaves game

• All-Star second baseman DJ LeMahieu was out of the lineup for the second straight game because of soreness in his right groin, an injury that cost him time last week. He was available to pinch-hit Wednesday, and a start Thursday afternoon was possible.

"It doesn't feel as good as I wished it would at this point, but at the same time, it's good enough to play and help the team win," LeMahieu said.

Video: Blackmon practices for the Home Run Derby

• Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon, who is seeded sixth in Monday night's 2017 T-Mobile Home Run Derby, practiced before Wednesday's game, with Holmes (who will accompany him to Miami) throwing. He received advice from hitting coach Duane Espy, as well as a scouting report on Marlins Park from bench coach Mike Redmond. As a former Marlins manager, Redmond can give advice on park dimensions and directions in which to hit balls.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies