DENVER -- Rockies manager Bud Black always says, "Be ready for anything."It's a rule that his young relievers, such as Jeff Hoffman and Harrison Musgrave, have learned in their switch from the Minor League rotation to the big league bullpen."Regardless of what you think is going to happen, you have
DENVER -- Rockies manager Bud Black always says, "Be ready for anything."
It's a rule that his young relievers, such as Jeff Hoffman and Harrison Musgrave, have learned in their switch from the Minor League rotation to the big league bullpen.
"Regardless of what you think is going to happen, you have to be ready," Musgrave said. "You don't know when you're going to throw. That's been an adjustment I've had to feel out and get used to."
Musgrave began his bullpen role in Spring Training in 2016 and made his Major League debut with the Rockies on April 23 this season. He is expected to stay in the bullpen, whereas Hoffman's relief role is seen as short-term.
Hoffman started six games for Colorado in 2016, and 16 last season, before finishing the year in the bullpen. He was on rehab assignment to begin this season and was called up June 8. The Rockies still envision Hoffman -- the key to the 2014 trade that sent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to the Blue Jays -- as a potential starter.
Both pitchers are learning how to best execute their roles, and are leaning on veteran relievers. Musgrave has observed Chris Rusin's preparation and aggressive mentality on the mound. Hoffman has worked with Wade Davis on strategizing innings and pitch selection.
"As the game goes on, you start to see the situation unfold," Hoffman said. "From there, you narrow your focus."
Musgrave and Hoffman have contributed to the bullpen's struggles in June. Hoffman surrendered five runs on two hits with three walks in one-third of an inning in Monday's 12-2 loss to the Mets. Musgrave limited opponents to four hits and one run in his first six games, but has given up runs in six of his past eight outings -- 10 runs in 12 innings.
"Any pitcher in that situation, you have to try to simplify it," Black said. "It's baptism under fire, man. It's not easy. Through all this, they're learning."
So Musgrave and Hoffman aren't just relying on their older counterparts for a game plan. They're also learning how to bounce back from tough outings.
"They've been through it longer than I have, so they're more upbeat," Musgrave said. "You can watch what they do and how they retaliate."
Each outing in a big league ballpark, regardless if it's starting or relieving, gives Musgrave and Hoffman a chance to gain experience -- something they want and are willing to do anything for. Like Black has taught them, they have to be ready for anything.
"I'm here to help the team in any way I can," Musgrave said. "If that's being the water boy, pitching, whatever. I'll do it."
• Left-handed reliever Mike Dunn, who has been on the disabled list since June 8 with an upper-back injury, threw a 20-pitch live batting practice session, using all his pitches at full effort.
"There's a good chance you might see him on a rehab assignment over the weekend," Black said.
Dunn didn't want to hold back when he took the mound Wednesday.
"I told them if I felt it at any point, I was going to shut it down, but everything is going good so far," Dunn said.
• Righty Scott Oberg, on the DL since June 10 with a lower-back strain, threw a bullpen session Tuesday and took fielding practice Wednesday.
• Righty Carlos Estevez (right elbow strain), who has been on the DL all season, will throw his second live batting practice on Friday.
Anne Rogers is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver.