Dohmann will replace right-hander Zach Day, who was acquired from Washington on July 13 and appeared in two games for Colorado. Day had been on the Nationals' disabled list because of a wrist injury before the trade, and he had experienced shoulder tightness since joining the Rockies.
Dohmann was confident enough that he would return to the Majors that he didn't give up his place in the Denver area after being sent down. The reliever made the commute of some 75 miles for every home game, and he returned afterward to his wife, Tara, and son, Kristopher Gavin, who was born last Sept. 17.
Because of injuries and a tight budget, the Rockies started the season with four rookies in their bullpen and an uncertain closer situation because of a shoulder injury to rookie closer Chin-hui Tsao. Many key innings fell to Dohmann, whose struggles symbolized the lack of experience on the relief staff. He gave up five home runs in 6 2/3 innings and went 0-1 with two blown saves.
The Rockies' bullpen was 1-7 with a 9.00 ERA and nine blown saves before Dohmann and fellow rookie right-hander Ryan Speier were sent to Colorado Springs on the same day. Colorado went with veterans to stabilize the situation and give the youngsters much-needed Minor League innings.
Last season, Dohmann went 0-3 with a 4.11 ERA but left the Rockies encouraged by posting 49 strikeouts in 46 innings. He earned an Opening Day spot with his strong Spring Training (1-0, 3.65 ERA, 13 strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings).
But Dohmann, 27, said subtle changes led to big problems.
"I made things too complicated this offseason," he said. "I tried to get too perfect with mechanics and everything else. I came through the system gripping and throwing. That's the way I learned how to pitch. That's how I became successful."
Colorado Springs pitching coach Bob McClure had the same message.
"Sometimes he'd get a little mechanical with it, instead of just getting them out," McClure said.
McClure also worked with Dohmann to break a predictable sequence of using the fastball to get ahead then going to the slider as his put-away pitch.
Dohmann likes throwing the slider, and he said he went overboard and had to be reminded to throw the fastball, too. But he said he learned. Dohmann also worked on his changeup, and he had just begun trying to develop a sinker as another way to attack the lower part of the strike zone.
At Colorado Springs, Dohmann went 2-0 with a 4.38 ERA. He was strong in his last three outings (4 1/3 innings, one earned run, five hits, six strikeouts and three walks).
"When I first came down, I thought there was no chance I'd be here this long," Dohmann said. "But things change. You've got to adjust. You have to work on stuff."
Now he can work on trimming that ERA.