Rockies push back Rusin; Butler starts Saturday

Rockies push back Rusin; Butler starts Saturday

DENVER -- The Rockies will start right-hander Eddie Butler on Saturday against the Giants -- in a switch with lefty Chris Rusin, who will start Sunday's finale of the three-game series.

The Rockies are recovering from a road trip that presented pitching challenges. The Rockies lost righty long reliever Christian Bergman with a left oblique injury May 19. Also, the bullpen endured consecutive short, ineffective starts by Jordan Lyles on Monday in Pittsburgh and Jorge De La Rosa on Tuesday in Boston.

Because Butler had not had sufficient recovery time from his last relief appearance, Rusin put off his side session Thursday just in case he was needed in relief. But by moving Butler to Saturday, the Rockies allowed Rusin to have that side session Friday and put himself in line to start Sunday.

Interestingly, Butler and Rusin are coming off effective relief outings. Butler held the Red Sox to no runs and one hit in 2 2/3 innings, and Rusin gave up two hits to the Pirates in 4 2/3 scoreless innings.

Also, Butler's freshest memory of the Giants was positive -- six scoreless innings with four hits and six strikeouts in a 2-0 victory at AT&T Park on Mother's Day.

At 2-2 with a 3.58 ERA in six games, including four starts, Butler has made major strides from last season, when he went 3-10 with a 5.90 ERA, was sent to Triple-A Albuquerque in August and wasn't given a September callup. Heavy sink on his fastball, a put-away slider and a sharp changeup have helped.

"He's gotten back to being a strike-thrower, and getting in good counts makes a world of difference," manager Walt Weiss said.

• Weiss indicated the move of rookie shortstop Trevor Story from second to seventh, made Thursday at Boston and repeated Friday, was more to ignite an offense that "struggled on the road trip" -- which saw the Rockies go 3-6 at St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Boston. Story knocked a two-run homer in Thursday's 8-2 victory over the Red Sox.

"He's not going to stay there," Weiss said. "I'm sure he'll be back in the two-hole or elsewhere at some point. It looked pretty good last night, so we're going to run with it again."

• Righty reliever Adam Ottavino, who did not give up a run in 10 appearances last year before undergoing Tommy John surgery, will throw a live batting practice session Saturday morning. Catcher Nick Hundley, out with a left oblique strain, will catch the session. The hope is Ottavino can return to the bullpen just before or just after the All-Star break.

• This week's addition of onetime Cardinals closer Jason Motte (recovered from a right shoulder injury) to the bullpen has given Weiss a quiet confidence in his late bullpen, which also features young power righties Carlos Estevez (.160 batting average against, 14 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings) and Miguel Castro (1.13 ERA, nine strikeouts in eight innings) and lefty closer Jake McGee (13 saves in 15 chances).

"We've got some power right now. ... The key is getting quality starts where we can get to those pieces in the situations that we want," Weiss said.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for 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.