Callups Alex White and Christian Friedrich turned heads during starts in San Diego on Tuesday and Wednesday to earn subsequent opportunities, and veteran Jeremy Guthrie is healthy enough to return to the rotation from a right shoulder sprain. So the Rockies needed to remove a starter to make room for left-handed reliever Josh Outman, who is ready after being out since late Spring Training with a right oblique strain.
After lefty Jamie Moyer starts Friday night against the Dodgers, the rotation will be righty Juan Nicasio on Saturday and righty White on Sunday, then Friedrich in Monday's opener of two games at San Francisco and Guthrie on Tuesday.
Rockies manager Jim Tracy said Pomeranz (0-2, 4.70 ERA in five starts) handled the news well, and if all goes as anticipated, he could be back in the Majors quickly. Pomeranz will start for Colorado Springs on Sunday at Memphis.
"He gets it," Tracy said. "He understands. He knows that there's something that he's looking for that hasn't quite arrived yet. After explaining to him about creating a different environment -- where you have the opportunity to step back, take a couple of deep breaths and work on the stuff, not worry about the result -- he's all in."
Pomeranz was hit in the right thigh by a line drive in the second inning of his start against the Padres on Monday night and was removed after three innings. He took the decision in the Rockies' 3-2 loss. But Tracy said the bruise had nothing to do with the move.
"He had a bullpen session on Wednesday afternoon and, from what I was told, it was as good as they had seen him -- including the start that he took recently against the Dodgers when he and Clayton Kershaw hooked up," Tracy said, referring to Pomeranz's 6 2/3 inning outing when he had five strikeouts in a no-decision. The Rockies won the game, 8-5, on Jason Giambi's game-ending home run in the bottom of the ninth.
Tracy said when Pomeranz returns, he will have a more over-the-top delivery. At times this year and last year (when he made four starts at the end of the season), Pomeranz was unintentionally cutting his fastball at times. The Rockies believe a higher arm swing will give him more power.
The Rockies felt their pitching had reached a crisis level last week. Guthrie was nursing the injury he sustained in a bicycle accident, Jhoulys Chacin was struggling until the Rockies discovered a shoulder injury, Guillermo Moscoso was reeling after two rough starts and the rotation was providing little length. White went 6 1/3 innings with five strikeouts and two walks in a loss to the Padres, and Friedrich went six innings with seven strikeouts in a victory over San Diego.
"A lot of people seem to think that we don't have much pitching," said Tracy. "But as we go along over the next couple of months, we could have a stable full [of options]." After being told late in Spring Training that he had made the Rockies' Opening Day roster, Outman made a fateful decision to have a late breakfast at a Denny's restaurant. The result was food poisoning, and he suffered his oblique injury while vomiting and had go on a Minor League rehab assignment.
In six rehab appearances, Outman had no record with a 1.29 ERA, a .217 batting average against, seven strikeouts and two walks. The Rockies acquired Outman and Moscoso from the Athletics last winter for outfielder Seth Smith. Outman has career numbers of 8-8 with a 3.75 ERA in 33 appearances (25 starts), all for the Athletics from 2008-11.