Butler to pitch with rotation spot on line; Gray reassigned

Weiss says young pitching depth 'shot in the arm' for Rockies

Butler to pitch with rotation spot on line; Gray reassigned

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Eddie Butler will be pitching for a spot in the Rockies rotation Saturday.

The right-hander gets the start in Colorado's final Cactus League game against the Mariners at Salt River Fields. If Butler pitches well, he's pencilled in for the Rockies' April 8 start against the Brewers. If he doesn't, righty Christian Bergman likely will start against Milwaukee.

Right-hander Jon Gray, the club's No. 1 prospect according to MLB.com, was reassigned to Minor League camp Friday.

Rockies manager Walt Weiss said Butler would get the April 8 start "if he goes out and there are no issues [Saturday]."

Butler -- MLB.com's No. 2 Rockies prospect -- left Monday's start with right-shoulder fatigue, but the club was encouraged by his successful long toss session Wednesday. He likely won't pitch too deep into Saturday's game in order to make sure he's well rested for the April 8 start.

Butler whiffs A. Gonzalez

Gray was optioned to the Minors one day after he allowed three runs and struck out four in 4 2/3 innings against the D-backs.

"He's in a pretty good place as it relates to going out there and competing and making pitches and getting through big league lineups," Weiss said.

Gray ends the inning

The Rockies don't need a fifth starter until April 14, and Bergman will be available in the bullpen as a long reliever or emergency starter.

"We don't want to decondition him as a starter," Weiss said. "We're looking at, again, the first week and a half of the season and then we'll regroup and go from there."

Left-hander Jorge De La Rosa (groin) has yet to throw off the mound, but is ahead of where the club expected him to be at this point, Weiss said. Free-agent acquisition David Hale (oblique) also is still rehabbing.

Add in Gray who, despite the Minor League assignment, should see time in The Show this year, and the Rockies' pitching has a chance to be much improved.

"We obviously have some young, talented arms," Weiss said. "They're not with us yet, but the fact that we're starting to see those guys show up on the Major League radar …

"It is exciting and it should be a shot in the arm."

Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.