Jairo Diaz Attains Goal: Emotional Return to Big Leagues Achieved on Wednesday

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Jairo Diaz is back in the big leagues.

He was called up from AAA Albuquerque on Wednesday, taking the roster spot opened when closer Wade Davis was placed on the injured list retroactive to Sunday with a left oblique strain. Scott Oberg, who had been the main reliever in the eighth inning, will assume the closer role with Diaz working into the mix that will setup for Oberg.

The Rockies also negated the assignment of left-handed pitcher Tyler Anderson to Albuquerque, placing him on the 60-day injured list, which opened a spot on the 40-man roster for Diaz. Anderson will undergo left knee surgery later this month.

Diaz, who turns 28 on Monday, earned his promotion by going 1-0 with six saves, a 0.45 ERA and a .171 average allowed while striking out 22 and walking six in 20 innings for the Isotopes.

And rest assured there's nothing about facing big-league hitters that is going to concern the 28-year-old Diaz. The right-handed reliever from Venezuela has battled challenges on the field and off the field the last three years.

After making his big-league debut with the Angles in five games at the end of the 2014 season, Diaz was dealt to the Rockies for Josh Rutledge prior to the 2015 season, and by mid-season had earned a job in the Rockies bullpen. He appeared in 21 games for the Rockies compiling a 2.37 ERA, striking out 18 and walking six in 19 innings.

It appeared he had claimed a big-league job only to be forced to undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the 2016 season. He was ready to make a comeback in 2017, but a month into his rehab from the surgery, his wife Dubraska Diaz was diagnosed iwth stomach cancer. She died on Oct. 22, 2017, leaving Diaz to raise his year-old daugher Hannah.

And in the midst of that 2017 comeback on the field, a shoulder problem flared up and sidelined him in August, limiting his season to two games at High-A Lancaster, 20 at AAA Albuqerque, and four games with the Rockies.

He spent most of 2018 rehabbing, appered in a total of 13 minor leagues games -- four at short-season Boise, five at Lancaster and four at Albuqerque.

This year, however, it has been full-speed ahead for Diaz, who has dominated Triple-A hitters with a fastball that can run the radar gun up to 100 miles-per-hour, and earned the call up by the Rockies.

“It’s a great day for all of us, to know what he went through and see this," manager Bud Black told the media in Pittsburgh. "There is some tragedy there. But now, to be back here with us, it’s an uplifting thing for all of us. I’m so happy for him.”

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