The Rockies on Saturday started to set up their second half, sending down rookie right-hander Antonio Senzatela and calling up lefty reliever Zac Rosscup.
Senzatela’s move isn’t exactly a demotion. The Rockies will set up the 22-year-old to build back into a multi-inning length at Triple-A Albuquerque, pitching him as a starter in a series against the host Las Vegas 51s this week. He was moved to the bullpen more than two weeks ago to help preserve his arm.
Senzatela was suffering from tiredness, his manager said, in his first full season after jumping from an abbreviated Double-A campaign last year.
After a rest, with just three relief appearances, and after missing three turns in the rotation, he will be back as a starter in Colorado, likely five days after his appearance for the Isotopes, likely next week.
“When we made that move to put him in the bullpen it was for a couple reasons,” manager Bud Black explained. “His velocity was down a tick and his command suffered his last two starts. This little breather will freshen up his arm and freshen him mentally too.”
In his place on the active roster, the Rockies called up the 29-year-old Rosscup, whom they acquired from the Cubs last month. Originally a 28th-round pick of Tampa Bay’s in 2009, Rosscup appeared once for Chicago this season before being designated for assignment. In three appearances with Albuquerque, he gave up two hits and no runs, with four strikeouts and no walks.
“He has a good arm, a little deception,” Black said. “We like the depth he provides. We’ll see whether he can be a contributor. Talent-wise, I think he can.”
More rest coming? The formula for giving Senzatela a breather to extend his season might translate to other rookie arms on Colorado’s staff, Black said.
German Marquez, 22, is a candidate for a bullpen stint after his seven-inning outing Friday in a victory over the White Sox. So too is 24-year-old Kyle Freeland, whose 99 innings pitched are second-most on the staff, behind veteran Tyler Chatwood.
“Since February, right after the Super Bowl, these guys have been going hard,” Black said.
Footnotes. Catcher Ryan Hanigan was scratched from the Rockies’ lineup late Friday afternoon before a scheduled start against Chicago. Upper back spasms kept him out of the game, but the injury is not serious, he said, and he does not anticipate a disabled list stint. … Second baseman DJ LeMahieu, who is still regaining speed after a groin injury, was pulled in the late innings Friday, but only for rest, Black said. … Right fielder Carlos Gonzalez did not start again Saturday, his second consecutive game out of the lineup. “The last 15 or so at-bats have not been CarGo-like,” Black said.
White Sox LHP Carlos Rodon (1-1, 1.59 ERA) at Rockies LHP Kyle Freeland (8-7, 4.09), Sunday 1:10 p.m., ROOT TV, 850-AM
It was not his worst outing of the year. But in Freeland’s last start — a loss to the Reds at Coors Field in which he allowed five runs on eight hits in 5 1/3 innings — he took the brunt of his manager’s ire in a long, mid-game meeting on the mound. Freeland then rebounded to retire the next eight batters he faced. Perhaps it was a rookie learning moment. But by statistical measure, Freeland has been Colorado’s second or third best starting pitcher this season. His growth remains key to the Rockies’ second half.
Monday: All-star break