DENVER -- Eight days ago, Jeff Hoffman gave up his Denver apartment and moved his belongings to Albuquerque, N.M., where he was pitching in Triple-A.It wasn't that Hoffman gave up on the Rockies recalling him. In fact, it happened Friday, when Hoffman joined the bullpen because lefty Mike Dunn went
DENVER -- Eight days ago, Jeff Hoffman gave up his Denver apartment and moved his belongings to Albuquerque, N.M., where he was pitching in Triple-A.
It wasn't that Hoffman gave up on the Rockies recalling him. In fact, it happened Friday, when Hoffman joined the bullpen because lefty Mike Dunn went to the 10-day disabled list with a left rhomboid (upper back) strain.
"I had an apartment right here downtown, a couple blocks away," Hoffman said after arriving at Coors Field. "I had my car here. Me and [my wife] Marissa both had our cars here. We had our whole lives here.
"But it came to a point where I was paying $3,000 a month for rent, and paying for an apartment in Albuquerque. I was like, 'Let's get rid of the Denver one. If we do get there, great. We'll get a new place.'"
After overcoming a shoulder issue that cropped up during Spring Training and making 10 starts at Triple-A (3-4, 4.29 ERA, 61 strikeouts, 25 walks), Hoffman hopes he can stick in Denver and truly leave Albuquerque behind.
"The first five, maybe six starts, I was in the 91-93 mph range and I was really pressing and wondering why that was -- my strength in my shoulder is better than it has been," Hoffman said. "It just took time to get back comfortable on the mound and using my adrenaline. My last few starts, it's really come along.
"What's been really big is I have command of all three of my offspeed pitches. They're all in the zone right now. It doesn't matter if I'm ahead in the count or behind the count, I can throw them whenever. That's made pitching easier for me."
The key prospect in the trade that sent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to the Blue Jays in 2015, Hoffman is 6-9 with a 5.65 ERA in 31 games, including 22 starts, for the Rockies. Last season, Hoffman bounced between the Rockies and Triple-A, going 6-5 with a 5.89 ERA in 23 Major League games, including 16 starts.
While the Rockies eventually believe Hoffman can succeed as a Major League starter, the need arose in the bullpen. Manager Bud Black said Hoffman most likely will be used for multiple innings or in extra innings.
"He's pitched well in spurts here in the big leagues," Black said. "We feel confident that what Jeff can provide us as a relief pitcher is something we need now."
Dunn has ongoing back issue
Dunn has a 9.00 ERA in 23 appearances. After nine straight scoreless outings May 10-June 1, Dunn has retired just one batter and been charged with six runs on four hits and four walks. In the Rockies' 7-5 loss to the Reds on Thursday, Dunn entered with a three-run lead, didn't retire any of his three batters and watched two score.
Dunn missed time last season with a back issue, and the current problem flared about two weeks ago. He was not sure if this year's was related to last year's, when an MRI revealed mild bulging disks.
"Ultimately, if I tell them I'm good to pitch, I take responsibility going out to the mound and doing my job," Dunn said. "The last three or four outings, it hasn't gotten any better, it's been getting worse. Yesterday was a tough one -- you have a three-run lead and I didn't go out and do my job and it was painful going out there. So I figured instead of hurting the team more, I would get it right."
At the beginning of the season, the Rockies used starter-type Antonio Senzatela out of the bullpen. He went 2-1 with a 6.23 ERA before being sent to Albuquerque to build his pitch count. However, Wednesday, he left after 32 pitches and two-thirds of an inning with right groin tightness. It's his second bout with a groin issue. Rockies player development director Zach Wilson said Senzatela's removal was a "precaution." It's not clear when he will return to the mound.
Righty Carlos Estevez (strained right elbow ulnar collateral ligament) and lefty Zachary Rosscup (left middle finger wart) are both on the 60-day DL. Righty Rayan Gonzalez, who has yet to debut in the Majors, is on a Minor League rehab assignment as he returns from a Tommy John right elbow surgery performed before last season.
Righty Adam Ottavino, the Rockies' top reliever this season, missed his 10th game Friday with a left oblique injury. Black said Ottavino will throw a bullpen session -- his first since the injury -- on Saturday, and in four to five days the Rockies will have a better idea when he can return.
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.