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Rotation hopeful Hoffman starts Cactus opener

Righty set to pitch two innings as Rockies host Diamondbacks
Special to MLB.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The long wait for the Cactus League opener is about to end. After just four days of full-squad workouts, the Rockies host the Diamondbacks on Friday at 1:10 p.m. MST to get Spring Training exhibition play underway.

Pitchers might have the early advantage with hitters still getting accustomed to seeing live pitching, but that merely puts the onus on the men on the mound to have a good showing.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The long wait for the Cactus League opener is about to end. After just four days of full-squad workouts, the Rockies host the Diamondbacks on Friday at 1:10 p.m. MST to get Spring Training exhibition play underway.

Pitchers might have the early advantage with hitters still getting accustomed to seeing live pitching, but that merely puts the onus on the men on the mound to have a good showing.

The Rockies will send Jeff Hoffman to the hill against the D-backs. The right-hander is looking to secure a spot in the Rockies' rotation after going 6-5 with a 5.89 ERA in 23 appearances (16 starts) in 2017. He joined Colorado's rotation on May 11 and got off to a good start, going 4-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his first five starts.

"We saw those first handful of starts, those first 35 innings, just look at the results of that, look at the performance, the internal numbers. All really solid," manager Bud Black said. "And then it got away from him. … He's got to become a guy who is able to repeat pitches, and you do that by repeating your delivery. He's capable, because we've seen it. It's exciting to think what Jeff Hoffman can be."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

On Friday, Hoffman will primarily be focused on his fastball command early.

"We're going to establish the fastball definitely early," Hoffman said. "And then we're probably going to mix. Pitch it like a normal game. I'm trying to take a rotation spot, so I'm going to go out and get outs and do it as efficiently as possible."

Big bullpen

After Hoffman throws a planned two innings, the Rockies expect to have Zach Jemiola, Adam Ottavino, Carlos Estevez and Jesus Tinoco follow him on the mound. Jemiola and Tinoco aren't likely to make the Rockies' roster coming out of Spring Training, but the team would like to get a good look at them.

Jemiola spent most of last season at Triple-A Albuquerque and impressed Black in last year's Spring Training, as well as with a strong finish to the year in the Arizona Fall League.

"I think Zach's fastball plays," Black said. "He's got a little deception to his delivery with the high front side. The fastball has some Major League-quality velocity. I like the changeup exclusively as far as a pitch that's plus on the scouting scale. The breaking ball is functional. So there's a mix of pitches that can lead me to believe there might be a big league pitcher there."

Video: Jemiola on returning from injury, outing vs. Glendale

Tinoco was the other big - and perhaps most underrated -- arm in the Troy Tulowitzki trade, coming to Colorado along with Hoffman, Jose Reyes and Miguel Castro. Tinoco spent the season with Class A Lancaster, finishing 11-4 with a 4.67 ERA.

"The Minor League staff has done a lot of work with [his] delivery," Black said of Tinoco. "They worked a great deal to solidify his mechanics [so he has] a repeatable delivery. The ball comes out of his hand at 95 mph on average; that's a plus-velocity fastball. He spits out some sliders that have been consistent. There's some development with the changeup that has to occur. He's a ways away, but he's got a big league arm."

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com.

Colorado Rockies, Jeff Hoffman