Tucson - As starters go, Taylor Buchholz profiles as an effective reliever.
After his performance in the Rockies' 7-4 win Thursday over the White Sox, Buchholz talked about the possibility of working out of the bullpen, his likely role with the Rockies this season.
"I have pretty much been a starter, but I am fine either way," said Buchholz, who is out of minor-league options. "It feels the same."
With Buchholz's bullpen spot close to being secure, the only pitching spots remaining are the fifth starter's role and a single relief spot open for Matt Herges, Dave Veres, Danny Graves or Denny Bautista.
That explains why the Rockies planned to let the Atlanta Braves know Byung-Hyun Kim and Josh Fogg are available in a trade. Braves' starter Mike Hampton strained his left oblique muscle and is out until at least May, leaving Atlanta with a potential void.
A Braves' official predicted his team would look from within first and seemed lukewarm to Fogg and Kim. The Rockies won't consider moving Kim to the bullpen, meaning he makes the team as a starter or not as all.
With all signs pointing toward Jason Hirsh sticking in the rotation, Brian Lawrence could insert himself into the fifth-starter derby Saturday. He faces the White Sox and then will attempt to pitch on three days' rest like the rest of the starters. The Rockies have remained cautious with Lawrence and are prepared for him to begin the season on the disabled list if necessary to build up arm strength.
"I didn't throw really hard before, so I only have a little ways to go," said Lawrence, who topped out at 82 mph in his last outing, about 3 mph off his normal velocity.
Veres worked a scoreless inning Thursday, matching Herges' outing the previous day. Graves, who was out for the first week with a strained oblique, threw 13 balls in his first 16 pitches before escaping with only one run allowed in the fourth inning Thursday.
"It felt like old times. I got loose in 10 pitches. It's nice to pitch against the big boys (Tadahito Iguchi, Paul Konerko, Jermaine Dye)," Veres said. "They didn't swing at my splitter, but I was able to get outs with my sinker."
Graves said he felt fine physically, "but I expected to give up hits, not walks. I had no command."