Hoffman effective in Triple-A game

Hoffman effective in Triple-A game

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-hander Jeff Hoffman turned a slow start into a positive Sunday, when he pitched 4 2/3 innings in a Triple-A game against the Cubs.

Hoffman hit his pitch limit, around 75, after 4 2/3 innings, giving up two runs on five hits that included a home run and a double. He struck out four. Much of the base traffic came in the second inning. He was better after that frame, although he gave up the home run in the fourth.

"It was really good for me," Hoffman said. "I want to limit that once the season comes around. But it's good to have that feeling of your back against the wall, and be able to work out of it."

Throwing in the Minor League game allowed Hoffman and Jon Gray, who fanned seven in five innings in a Cactus League 9-2 victory over the Athletics, to each build pitch counts.

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"It's building the pitch count for Hoffman, and [righty German] Marquez again tomorrow on the backfields," said manager Bud Black, who received a report from pitching coaches Steve Foster and Darren Holmes, who witnessed the outing. "We need to get these guys lengthened out. We'll have them back up in a Cactus League game here. But the last 30-40 pitches were good. The first 30 were a little shaky, but he bounced back, which is a good sign."

Hoffman's focus was working his breaking ball below the hitting zone -- an issue in Cactus League games, where he has a 4.76 ERA in three official games. He also gave up two runs in three innings in a World Baseball Classic exhibition against Puerto Rico, which isn't included on the stat sheet.

"For the most part today, when I wanted the breaking stuff in the zone it was in the zone; and when I wanted it bounced, it bounced," said Hoffman, the key acquisition when the Rockies sent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to the Blue Jays in 2015.

Worth noting

• Right fielder Carlos Gonzalez, who slashed .308/.379/.385 for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, was due to land in Scottsdale on Sunday. Black said he planned to give Gonzalez the day off Monday, and after the team takes Tuesday off, return him to action Wednesday against the Indians at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

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• Outfielder David Dahl is scheduled to visit with doctors Monday to discuss the results of an MRI taken Friday on his sixth rib. Dahl, originally slated to compete with Gerardo Parra in left field, has been out since early in camp with a stress reaction.

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. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.