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Hurdle hopes tweak sparks rotation

Hurdle hopes tweak sparks rotation

DENVER -- It shouldn't have come as a surprise that Rockies manager Clint Hurdle masterfully juggled the National League bullpen during Tuesday's 15-inning All-Star Game. He's been patching together the Rockies' struggling pitching staff all season.

Back in Denver to begin a seven-game homestand, Hurdle announced the most recent version of the rotation before Thursday's game against the Pirates.

In an attempt to steady a pitching staff that's third to last in the Majors with a 4.93 ERA, Hurdle will start Glendon Rusch (1-1) on Friday, Jorge De La Rosa (3-5) on Saturday and Aaron Cook (11-6) on Sunday.

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In addition, Hurdle said that as long as Kip Wells (1-1) manages to "stand up right for the next four days," he'll make his first start on Monday since going on the disabled list with a blood clot in his pitching hand on April 29.

"Kip seems to be in a good place," Hurdle said. "We want to make sure he's physically fit."

Wells was ineffective in four rehab starts with Triple-A Colorado Springs, going 0-3 with an 8.84 ERA, but he pitched much better Wednesday for Double-A Tulsa. In 6 2/3 innings, Wells gave up two runs on six hits and struck out eight.

"I made good enough pitches for the majority of that game that I feel if I just duplicate that I'll be just fine," Wells said. "The stuff wasn't ever missing, it was just a matter of repeating it and getting into a rhythm and staying there and not trying to overthrow."

To make room for Wells, Hurdle had to decide whether to move De La Rosa or lefty Mark Redman to the bullpen. Both had bad outings in their previous starts, with De De La Rosa giving up seven runs in 3 2/3 innings against Milwaukee and Redman surrendering five runs to the Mets in 3 1/3.

Ultimately, Hurdle decided to stick with De La Rosa.

"There's probably more possible upside [with De La Rosa]," Hurdle said. "We're not happy. Jorge's got work to do, but neither one of them is at a good place right now, so we're taking the younger arm and giving it one more start and seeing where that leaves us."

Hurdle also said that Jeff Francis (3-7), who has been on the disabled list since July 2 with inflammation in his left shoulder, pitched a bullpen session on Thursday. The team will reevaluate Francis on Friday to see if he's ready to begin rehab assignments.

Jeff Birnbaum is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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