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Hoffman sets sights on return to Rox rotation

Right-hander set to begin rehab assignment with Lancaster
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- Right-hander Jeff Hoffman will begin an injury rehab assignment on Tuesday at Class A Advanced Lancaster as he attempts to push his way into the Rockies' rotation.

The Rockies shut Hoffman down after two Cactus League appearances to allow right shoulder soreness to calm. Now that he is healthy, Hoffman will pitch for Lancaster Tuesday against San Jose, then continue his rehab at Triple-A Albuquerque. Rehab assignments for pitchers are a maximum 30 days, but Hoffman has Minor League options.

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DENVER -- Right-hander Jeff Hoffman will begin an injury rehab assignment on Tuesday at Class A Advanced Lancaster as he attempts to push his way into the Rockies' rotation.

The Rockies shut Hoffman down after two Cactus League appearances to allow right shoulder soreness to calm. Now that he is healthy, Hoffman will pitch for Lancaster Tuesday against San Jose, then continue his rehab at Triple-A Albuquerque. Rehab assignments for pitchers are a maximum 30 days, but Hoffman has Minor League options.

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But Hoffman, the ninth overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft and the key to the 2014 trade that sent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to the Blue Jays, arrived at Spring Training considered a competitor for the season-opening rotation.

"Jeff knows what's ahead of him," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "But like all guys in the Minor Leagues, we're hoping that they all do great, continue to grow and try to improve, and Jeff is one of that group of players that's trying to get back to the big leagues."

Hoffman went 6-5 with a 5.89 ERA in 23 games (16 starts) last season. Hoffman posted a 2.25 ERA and .205 batting average against in his first six appearances. But as the season progressed, fastball command eluded Hoffman, which meant he couldn't set up his swing-and-miss curveball.

Hoffman felt he was spotting the fastball well before the soreness appeared.

"I feel a lot better than what I was feeling when I went down," Hoffman said. "I feel a lot stronger, how I'm supposed to feel. I'm not feeling the bad soreness in my rotator cuff."

Hoffman threw a live batting practice Thursday in Scottsdale, Ariz., and did his throwing program at Coors Field on Sunday, with coaches and trainers watching.

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

Colorado Rockies, Jeff Hoffman