DENVER -- Needing to bolster a tired bullpen and uncertain that third baseman Nolan Arenado and outfielder Corey Dickerson are healthy, the Rockies sent right-handed-hitting Wilin Rosario to Triple-A Albuquerque on Wednesday.
Rosario has hit .357 with one home run -- a game-winner at Milwaukee in the season's second game -- and two RBIs as a pinch-hitter and backup first baseman.
"Our hands were tied on this one," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "It has nothing to do with his performance. We really didn't have any other choice."
In related moves, the Rockies also activated righty reliever John Axford from the restricted list, recalled righty Scott Oberg from Triple-A and placed righty reliever LaTroy Hawkins on the 15-day disabled list with right biceps tendinitis.
Arenado missed the past two games with a sore left wrist and Dickerson left Monday's game with plantar fasciitis in his left foot, but both started Wednesday night. So the Rockies couldn't disturb their outfield or infield depth to go to eight relievers. The Rockies had to bolster the bullpen because of a lack of innings from the starters. Jorge De La Rosa and Tyler Matzek threw a total of seven innings Monday and Tuesday, and since Kyle Kendrick went seven innings on Opening Day, a Rockies starter has not thrown a pitch in the seventh.
Hawkins' injury is one of the casualties of the bullpen being taxed early. Rockies relievers entered Wednesday leading the National League with 52 1/3 innings and had a 3.96 ERA -- fourth-highest in the NL.
Rosario said he was not happy with the demotion, but said he understood the issue with the bullpen.
"In the time that I got, I feel I helped give my team a chance to win," Rosario said.
Rosario said regular time at first base in Triple-A could be to his benefit. He has received two starts and five games total at first base.
"I'm going to play every day, that's what they told me," Rosario said. "It's a good sign. I prepare down there so when I come back in a couple days, I can be better at first."
The Rockies held onto backup infielders Daniel Descalso and Rafael Ynoa, who has Minor League options, and outfielder Drew Stubbs, who is 0-for-15 with nine strikeouts in limited playing time. It left Rosario the odd man out. Weiss said he couldn't move that trio because Arenado and Dickerson haven't proved healthy.
Weiss said of Rosario, "It was extremely tough. I tried to explain the circumstances to him. It was really the only card we had to play. True to form, by the end of the meeting, Wilin walked out with a smile on his face and ready to go. He's handling this whole situation like a champ."