The Denver Post - - SPORTS -

scottsdale, ariz.» Jeff Hoff­man wore the lilac­col­ored jersey of a Rock­ies big-lea­guer Sun­day, but his team­mates wore black. The long righthander was try­ing to get right, pitch­ing in a mi­nor­league game on the chain­fence back fields at the Salt River com­plex.

Two weeks from the start of the sea­son, the 24-year-old Hoff­man is one of four young arms com­pet­ing for two spots in the Rock­ies’ ro­ta­tion. Even rel­e­gated to fac­ing the Cubs’ Triple-A hit­ters, a group of Colorado front-of­fice ex­ec­u­tives and coaches, from gen­eral man­ager Jeff Bridich to pitch­ing coach Steve Fos­ter, watched Hoff­man pitch.

Hoff­man is the player Bridich re­ceived for Troy Tu­low­itzki in the sum­mer trade with the Blue Jays two seasons ago, a cov­eted pitch­ing prospect who de­buted with the Rock­ies late last sea­son. But this spring, Hoff­man seems to be look­ing up at fel­low prospects Kyle Free­land and An­to­nio Sentza­tela.

“It’s good to have that feel­ing of your back against the wall and be able to work out of it,” Hoff­man said af­ter pitch­ing out of a long sec­ond in­ning.

Hoff­man pitched 4M in­nings to mixed re­sults, giv­ing up five hits and two runs, with four strike­outs and one walk. His sec­ond in­ning was stretched. He loaded the bases with the first three bat­ters and al­lowed a sacri­fice li­ne­out to left field. But he struck out two with a crash­ing slider.

“I was mak­ing sure to bury break­ing balls when I needed to. That was an is­sue for me the last two out­ings,” Hoff­man said.

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