Colorado Rockies pitcher Chris Rusin will make his return to the starting rotation tonight against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field after missing time in Spring Training because of a strained tendon in his middle finger.
"I've never had a finger issue before," Rusin said. "I was going to try to throw through it and I remember one of my college buddies, James Paxton, he had the same problem last year so I asked him about it and he ended up tearing (a tendon) and missing like four months."
Rusin said he has no more pain in the finger, but does have an issue with it in cooler weather.
"You have to make sure it's always warm, if it gets cold it locks up a bit," Rusin said.
That should not be an issue tonight in Arizona, where it is scheduled to be 75 degrees at first pitch and, of course, they have a roof at Chase Field.
Rusin has made four appearances out of the bullpen for the Rockies this season, all of them longer than an inning. After allowing three runs in 1⅓ innings to San Diego in the Rockies' home opener, Rusin has pitched 9⅔ innings of shutout baseball in his three most recent appearances, giving him a 2.45 ERA in 11 innings of work, striking out seven while walking just two. He said his work as a long reliever will translate well to a starting role.
"I try to be aggressive both out of the pen and as a starter," Rusin said. "As a long man you have to be efficient and as a starter you have to be efficient, so I just go out there and try to get early contact, early action, get the team off the field as fast as I can."
Rusin was primarily a starter for the Rockies last year, getting the ball 22 times and making just a pair of relief appearances. He had a 5.62 ERA in 125 innings as a starter in 2015, but his only start against the Diamondbacks was a good one as he allowed three runs, one earned, on six hits in six innings of work, walking two and striking out six.
He will face a bit of a different-looking Arizona lineup today, with David Peralta dropping to sixth in the order against the southpaw and Yasmany Tomas batting cleanup. Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke will bat eighth today against Rusin, with shortstop Nick Ahmed batting ninth.
Greinke will face the same Rockies lineup that roughed him up to the tune of seven runs on nine hits in four innings on Opening Day, with Carlos Gonzalez returning to action in right field, batting third.
First pitch tonight is at 6:10 p.m. Mountain time.