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Gray set for Saturday; Senzatela (blister) hits DL

MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- Jon Gray hopes a little bit of quiet time is all he needs.

After two starts at Triple-A Albuquerque to, as he put it, "hit the reset button," Gray will return to the Rockies to start Saturday night against the Mariners. Gray's callup was needed because right-hander Chad Bettis' right middle finger blister has not healed in time for him to come off the 10-day disabled list.

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DENVER -- Jon Gray hopes a little bit of quiet time is all he needs.

After two starts at Triple-A Albuquerque to, as he put it, "hit the reset button," Gray will return to the Rockies to start Saturday night against the Mariners. Gray's callup was needed because right-hander Chad Bettis' right middle finger blister has not healed in time for him to come off the 10-day disabled list.

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It was one of two blister-related pitching items on Friday. The Rockies scratched righty Antonio Senzatela because of a right middle finger blister that became infected over the last few days and forced him to the 10-day DL. Righty Jeff Hoffman came up from Albuquerque to start in his place.

Gray was 7-7 with a 5.77 ERA in 17 starts when he was optioned to Albuquerque on June 30. It was a major move, considering Gray made the Rockies' last two Opening Day starts and started last year's National League Wild Card Game, which was the team's first postseason contest in eight years.

Gray pitched his way to Albuquerque with a strange performance. At the time of the demotion, he was fourth in the National League in strikeouts with 119 and second in strikeouts per nine innings at 11.64, but he also led the league by giving up 108 hits. Runners on base (.892 OPS against) and key situations (.819 OPS with runners in scoring position) were issues.

He worked through delivery problems, such as his stride and his separation, and at times, those actions clouded his mind in games. He vows to finally put that behind him.

"Just lessen information and focusing on what I do best," Gray said. "Just kind of letting it take over. Not thinking about trying to create all these things and do all these things, I've just been letting myself work the way I do."

One of his Triple-A starts bordered on dominant -- six innings, six strikeouts, two hits, two runs. In the other, the numbers were reminiscent of the Major League performances -- 102 pitches in 4 2/3 innings, with three runs (two earned), five hits, four walks and seven strikeouts.

There have also been concerning velocity dips, especially in his last three Major League starts, along with his last start at Albuquerque.

But with the All-Star break coming, and two pitchers dealing with blisters, Gray has a chance to pull himself together and be the rotation lynchpin that the Rockies expect him to be.

"Jon has proven to be a very capable Major League starter," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "He's delivered many times as a big league starter the past couple of years. We're confident that Jon can do that tomorrow."

Senzatela (3-2, 5.34 ERA) has made two starts for the Rockies this season -- seven innings, no runs or walks, three hits, four strikeouts against the Giants on July 3, and six innings, five hits and six runs against the Mariners on Sunday in Seattle. Senzatela said after his bullpen session on Tuesday that the blister showed up Wednesday and worsened Thursday.

Video: SF@COL: Senzatela strikes out 4 over 7 shutout frames

"Yesterday, when I woke up in the morning, it was crazy -- too big, and they cut it off and cleaned it because it was infected," said Senzatela, who plans to play catch on Saturday -- without tape on his finger -- and will try to keep his arm in shape for when he returns.

Senzatela said blisters can affect his breaking balls. Friday was the first time in three years he has missed a start because of the condition.

"I'm not a dermatologist, and I don't pretend to be," Black said. "So, I can't describe it in medical terms, but the blister turning into an infection cost him his start."

Tapia time

Black had lefty-hitting Raimel Tapia prepared to pinch-hit in a key sixth-inning moment on Thursday, but he could have changed his mind, since the D-backs went with lefty reliever Andrew Chafin. But Black stayed the course, and Tapia made it pay off with a single to right field. It was a key hit in the 5-1 victory.

Video: ARI@COL: Tapia lines a go-ahead RBI single in the 6th

Tapia has demonstrated a better approach as a starter (1-for-3 with a double, two runs and a walk last Saturday at Seattle, for example) than off the bench, but Thursday's hit could win him more chances.

"It showed Buddy and the team has the confidence in me to do my job," Tapia said. "It doesn't matter what pitcher is out there, and for me to come through against a lefty, gives me even more confidence going out and doing what I do."

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, Jon Gray, Antonio Senzatela