Rusin to pitch in Triple-A opener

Rusin to pitch in Triple-A opener

MILWAUKEE -- Rockies left-hander Chris Rusin will pitch Thursday for Triple-A Albuquerque in the Isotopes' opener against Salt Lake as part of a rehab assignment for a right oblique injury, manager Bud Black said Wednesday.

Rusin, who entered camp competing for a rotation job, and also pitched in relief, will throw three innings or 45 pitches. The Rockies want to activate him when he's able to pitch multiple innings.

Righty reliever Chad Qualls, who has been battling a right forearm strain, threw live batting practice in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Wednesday. He will join the team in Denver and throw Saturday at Coors Field, then Black plans to send him on a Minor League rehab assignment.

Righty Jairo Diaz also threw in Scottsdale on Wednesday, and will stay there for "a short period of time" before beginning his rehab assignment.

Black said first baseman Ian Desmond (fractured left hand) and catcher Tom Murphy (fractured right forearm) will undergo tests Monday in Denver to assess how the bones are healing. Outfielder David Dahl (stress reaction in sixth rib) also has an upcoming scan, but Black said he is not sure of the date.

"Those guys are all improving," Black said. "Ian ramped up his exercise program, so has Murph, and so has David. They're doing everything they can do within the structure of the protocol set by the doctors."

Worth noting

• The 28 strikeouts the Rockies pitchers amassed the first two games against the Brewers represent the most in franchise history in two games.

• How can you tell Rockies closer Greg Holland's right elbow feels good after October 2015 Tommy John surgery? Well, he says so. But if you want the numbers, Statcast™ has them.

Holland shuts the door

In April 2015, Holland, who was already in pain, his four-seam fastball average was 93.8 mph. It's up a tick this year through two games, to 94.0.

Holland's spin rate also is up, from 2,233 rpms to 2,275 now.

Black went into Wednesday planning not to use Holland, after he had earned saves the first two games.

"A reliever's mentality is such, to be ready every night," Black said. "So often guys pride themselves in that aspect. To be able to pitch three in a row, sometimes four in a row. Early in the year, it doesn't make sense for that to happen."

• The Rockies on Wednesday unconditionally released righty reliever Jason Motte, who was designated for assignment before the end of Spring Training. Motte, due $5 million, had an up-and-down Spring Training and was beaten out by righty Scott Oberg.

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