The Rockies’ bullpen has been ironclad this this season, but a small chink in the armor showed Wednesday when the club placed late-game left-hander Mike Dunn on the 10-day disabled list with back spasms.
Dunn said the spasms are in his mid-back and flared up during his last outing Saturday. That means his DL stint is back-dated to Sunday. Because of the majors’ new 10-day DL, there is a good chance Dunn could be back in the bullpen by next week when the Rockies open a three-game set at San Diego beginning Tuesday.
Veteran right-hander Chad Qualls, 38, will take Dunn’s place in the Rockies’ bullpen. Qualls, who’s been battling right-forearm tightness since spring training, was reinstated from the DL.
Dunn has been an integral part of a bullpen that is 6-0 with a 2.97 ERA, which ranks second in the National League. The good news, Dunn said, is that be believes it’s a minor setback.
“We checked it out to make sure it wasn’t anything major, and then we gave it a couple of days off and I tried to throw a (bullpen) yesterday,” Dunn said. “The fastball felt great, but then I tried to crank on a slider and my back just kind of locked up a little bit. … So we are going to give it the time it needs to get better.”
Dunn said he’s never had back problems before and an MRI showed no structural damage. The spasms began last Saturday during the Rockies’ 12-3 win over San Francisco.
“I felt it warming up in the bullpen and thought I could pitch through it and kept thinking it was something that was going to go away, but the back tightened up a quite a bit,” said Dunn, who gave up a run and two hits in one-third of an inning vs. the Giants — the first run he allowed this season. “We gave it Sunday and Monday off and then tried to throw a bullpen yesterday. It was close, but not quite where we want it to be.”
The 31-year-old has been a sparkling performer so far, posting a 2-0 record, with a 1.17 ERA, 10 strikeouts and just two walks over 7 2/3 innings.
Qualls, who pitched for current Rockies manager Bud Black in San Diego, struggled last season with Colorado, going 2-0 with a 5.23 ERA with 22 strikeouts and nine walks in 32 2/3 innings.