DENVER -- Chad Bettis left his last Triple-A start abruptly at 71 pitches, but remains healthy and will start Thursday in Triple-A, according to Rockies manager Bud Black. Bettis, 28, threw 71 pitches in his last outing, and is scheduled to reach 90 this week.
Bettis, attempting to return from testicular cancer that sidelined him for nearly four months this season, exited his second rehab outing with the Albuquerque Isotopes on a 1-1 count. Manager Glenallen Hill and trainer Heath Townsend visited with Bettis before he left the game. No relievers were warming up before Bettis left, suggesting his departure was premature.
Hill said afterward Bettis “was fine,” but the right-hander was not available for comment after the game. Tuesday, Black told reporters, which included a Denver7 representative, Bettis is healthy and will continue on the mapped out blueprint.
During his recovery, subsequent throwing program and rehab, the former Texas Tech star has returned to Denver for checkups. In four rehab appearances – two at Double-A, a pair at Triple-A – Bettis is 0-1 with a 4.97 ERA in 12 2/3 innings. Bettis told Denver7 recently he was preparing to start, but would be open to a relief role in the big leagues, if necessary. Bettis needs to show he can throw 90 pitches and be effective -- the usual protocol on that last step of a rehab assignment -- to be a candidate to rejoin the rotation.
Bettis has inspired fans and teammates with his comeback. Popular in the clubhouse for his competitive nature, Bettis anchored the pitching staff last season, going 14-8 with a 4.79 ERA with a team-best 186 innings. He would be the team’s oldest starter if he rejoins the rotation. Bettis’ final chemo treatment occurred May 16. Earlier this month, I asked Bettis why it was important he pitched in the big leagues this season given everything he has endured.
“That’s a good question,” Bettis said. “I would say that some of it has to do simply with the fact that I want to prove I can do it. At the same time, I want to be there with my brothers and get into the playoffs. That’s the big drive.