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Dunn fits in well with experienced Rockies 'pen

Left-hander signed three-year deal in Colorado after six seasons with Marlins
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rockies left-hander Mike Dunn began playing the role of a veteran sage long before he felt like a veteran.

Before signing a three-year, $19 million contract with the Rockies during the offseason, the reliever pitched for the always-young Marlins from 2011-16. Dunn, 31, has always looked the part of a veteran.

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Rockies left-hander Mike Dunn began playing the role of a veteran sage long before he felt like a veteran.

Before signing a three-year, $19 million contract with the Rockies during the offseason, the reliever pitched for the always-young Marlins from 2011-16. Dunn, 31, has always looked the part of a veteran.

"I've been shaving my head for a long time -- my hair ran from me at an early age," Dunn said before striking out the side in the eighth inning on Tuesday against the Rangers, eventually earning the win in the Rockies' 3-2 victory.

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"I kind of got forced into that role being in Miami," Dunn said of being a clubhouse leader. "Realistically, you look back three years ago, I had three or four years in the big leagues, and I was the guy with the most time. Guys would come asking me questions, and it kind of caught me off-guard. Then I realized it.

"It takes time and comfort. I don't think you can just walk in and say, 'I'm going to be a leader, a veteran.' It comes with time."

Dunn has a high-strikeout track record, with four seasons of 65 or more K's. Last season, his total dropped to 38, but he only made 51 appearances, his lowest total since 2010, because of a left forearm strain he suffered while trying to incorporate a changeup last spring.

This year, Dunn is using Spring Training to work toward consistent velocity, with hopes of getting his fastball consistently in the 93-94-mph range instead of the 91-94 he has shown in early outings. Rockies manager Bud Black sees Dunn as a low-stress option in a bullpen that has built a veteran presence by adding him and Greg Holland to go with Adam Ottavino, Jake McGee, Jason Motte and Chad Qualls.

"We've got six guys who have been battle-tested," Black said.

Dunn said the bullpen is clicking.

"I've got a lot in common with everybody," Dunn said. "We've kind of meshed really well together so far, and as we move forward we want to become a tighter-knit group."

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, Mike Dunn