Report: The Rockies have checked in with the Rays about Jeff Niemann

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UPDATE: According to Troy Renck of the Denver Post, the Dodgers have called the Rockies, among other teams, to gauge their interest in left-hander Chris Capuano.

12:10 PM: After finishing last in the majors in 2012 with a 5.22 ERA, the Rockies are asking around about potential upgrades for their starting rotation.

ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that the Rockies have checked in with the Rays about the availability of right-hander Jeff Niemann, among others. However, it doesn’t appear as though anything is imminent, as Olney notes that talks haven’t advanced.

Niemann made just eight starts with the Rays last season due to a fractured fibula and shoulder inflammation, but owns a 4.08 ERA over five seasons in the majors. The soon-to-be 30-year-old is owed $3 million this season and is under team control through 2014. If the Rays were to move him, it could open up a spot for Roberto Hernandez, Chris Archer or Jake Odorizzi in the starting rotation.

Masahiro Tanaka to throw off a mound this weekend

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Earlier this month Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka strained both of his hamstrings while running the bases in an interleague game against the Mets and was sent to the 10-day DL. Today it was announced that the beginning of the end of most DL stints for pitchers — throwing off of a mound — is in Tanaka’s immediate future.

Tanaka is scheduled to throw off a mound Sunday, which will be his first real (well, fake real) pitching action since the June 9th injury. Assuming the session goes well, Tanaka is expected to return to the Yankees’ starting rotation sometime in early-to-mid July. With the All-Star break coming the week of July 16, it would not be hard to imagine the Yankees giving him a few extra days to get right.

Tanaka is 7-2 with a 4.58 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 73/19 in 72.2 innings on the season.