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Rockies look to Oberg, Dunn to stabilize 'pen

Relievers activated from DL; Hoffman and Pounders optioned
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Rockies activated righty Scott Oberg and lefty Mike Dunn on Wednesday in hopes they provide more conventional, and comfortable, relief options, for manager Bud Black.

Oberg missed 15 games with a lower-back strain and Dunn missed 17 games with an upper-back strain. Both struggled, but also had solid periods before going on the disabled list.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- The Rockies activated righty Scott Oberg and lefty Mike Dunn on Wednesday in hopes they provide more conventional, and comfortable, relief options, for manager Bud Black.

Oberg missed 15 games with a lower-back strain and Dunn missed 17 games with an upper-back strain. Both struggled, but also had solid periods before going on the disabled list.

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Dunn had a nine-appearance scoreless streak before the pain he was pitching through affected his final three appearances (six earned runs in one-third of an inning). Oberg, after struggling in April and spending much of May at Triple-A Albuquerque, had six outings without allowing an earned run before sustaining the injury doing front-squats in the weight room after a June 7 appearance in Cincinnati.

Dunn and Oberg replace righties Jeff Hoffman, a Triple-A starter who went 0-0, 10.13 in five Major League relief appearances, and Brooks Pounders (0-1, 7.63 ERA in 14 games). Hoffman will rebuild his pitch count in the Albuquerque rotation and provide depth for the Rockies starters.

The hope is Dunn and Oberg provide the solid middle-innings work that the Rockies have been missing. With righty Bryan Shaw having struggled before going to the DL with a right calf strain and lefty Chris Rusin struggling most of the year, the Rockies have been missing a bridge to setup man Adam Ottavino and closer Wade Davis.

"It's good to have those guys back in a couple of aspects. Dunner, with his experience, and Scott Oberg really getting into his career, and he's had Major League success," Black said. "These are guys who have pitched in big league games, who understand how our bullpen works, who are true relief pitchers."

The Rockies acquired Hoffman in the deal that sent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to the Blue Jays in 2015 with an eye toward the future of the rotation, but needed him to tide over a bullpen hurt by ineffectiveness and injury. Now the Rockies want him to resume development of his four pitches.

"Every time that Jeff takes the mound, he's gaining experience at this level, and every time he records a big league out that's confidence," Black said. "But with Jeff, he's really not able to utilize his pitch mix as a reliever. As a reliever, a lot of times you don't have that luxury to work your way into a game. There's a pitch-development aspect here, and we need to get Jeff to Triple-A to work on the consistency of his curveball, the improvement of his changeup and fastball command."

Almonte proves a fit

Righty Yency Almonte, another Triple-A starter called up to help the bullpen, remains with Rockies after his two scoreless relief appearances.

"His style of pitching, which is aggressive fastball and slider, sets up for us a little bit better than Jeff as a Major League reliever at this moment," Black said.

Using the tricks of the trade

Shaw (3-5, 7.57 ERA in 41 games) threw his first bullpen session since sustaining his injury in front of a large, live and technological audience. Black, pitching coaches Steve Foster and Darren Holmes, director of pitching operations Mark Wiley and several teammates gathered by the bullpen.

Also, Ottavino set up his Edgertronic high-speed video camera -- up to 1,500 frames per second. Shaw, who said he'd never had so many observers for his bullpen, welcomed the test-and-tune session.

"Today was to get a gauge -- we haven't really gone over this stuff yet, it's still compiling," Shaw said. "You can check everything: spin rate, slow-mo cam, hand positioning. There were some good ones in there and some intentional bad ones to see if there are some differences in spin rates and this and that. Apparently, it's nice and compiles a lot of stuff. We'll go over it the next couple days."

Ottavino purchased the camera system during the offseason while trying to study ways to improve after a rough 2017.

"It's something we'll probably look into getting ourselves -- there are a couple of teams that have it, so you can zero in," Rockies video coordinator Brian Jones said.

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

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