9th Time Charm? Valaika Called Up By Rockies, Dunn Designated for Assignment

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The Rockies balanced their roster on Tuesday.

Veteran reliever Mike Dunn, who still has $4.5 million coming to complete the three-year deal he signed with the Rockies prior to the 2016 season, was designated for assignment on Monday to make room for the recall of infielder Pat Valaika from Triple-A Albuquerque.

Valaika is joining the big-league team for the ninth time since he debuted in September of 2016.

The Rockies had optioned infielder/outfielder Garrett Hampson to Albuqueque last weekend and brought up right-hander Jesus Tinoco after the pitching staff was extended last Friday night against the Padres. Tinoco pitched three shutout innings in relief on Sunday. Before opening the series in Arizona, however, the Rockies knew they needed to rebalance the the roster, which meant a pitcher had to go.

"We needed to get back to four position players on the bench," said manager Bud Black. "Pat helps us in a lot of different ways."

Valaika has played all four infield positions and left field for the Rockies.

The Rockies saw Dunn as that left-handed setup man for their closer when they signed him. The consistency of his past never emerged in Colorado, where he missed the bulk of the 2018 season on the disabled list, which has since been renamed the injured list, and was sidelined earlier this season. He leaves with a 6-1 record, but failed in his only two save opportunities, and had a composite 5.93 ERA.

"It was tough on us emotionally with Dunn," said Black. "He came on board in the winter of 2016, the same time I was hired. ... It hasn't turned out the way we hoped, but he has had an impact on our team as a leader, a stand-up guy."

Prior to signing with the Rockies, Dunn had appeared in the big leagues with the Yankees (2009), Braves (2010), and Marlins (2011-16).

The decision with Dunn leaves Jake McGee as the only lefthander in the Rockies bullpen. With the Rockies short on pitching, they called up Tinoco last weekend. He responded with three shutout innings on Sunday, giving him four innings without allowing a run in two call-ups this season.

To make room for Tinoco, the Rockies sent infielder Garrett Hampson to Albuquerque, with the idea that they would readjust the roster with a position player prior to the series at Arizona that begins Tuesday night.

Valaika has bounced between Albuqeruque and the Rockies since 2016, when he made his big-league debut as a September call-up. He spent the bulk of 2017 with the Rockies, and made four different appearances on the Rockies roster a year ago. His call-up is his third big-league opportunity this season.

In his time in Albuquerque, Valaika has been one of the Isotopes best offensive players, although it hasn't translated to the big-league level. He returned to Colorado having hit .339 with 12 doubles, 16 home runs and 39 RBI in 44 games at Albuquerque, but with a career big-league average of .207 with 18 doubles, 16 home runs and 47 RBI in 208 career games.