Betancourt, Quintanilla return to Rox on Minors pacts

Reliever seeks spot in bullpen while infielder provides utility depth

Betancourt, Quintanilla return to Rox on Minors pacts

DENVER -- The Rockies have reached out to a couple of their former players for depth, agreeing to terms with one-time closer Rafael Betancourt and infielder Omar Quintanilla on Minor League contracts.

Betancourt earned 57 saves for the club between being acquired in a 2009 trade and the 2013 season, when he suffered a right elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. Betancourt didn't pitch in the Majors last season, but made 21 appearances at the Minor League level (2-0, 4.66 ERA) while working his way back to health.

Manager Walt Weiss did not activate Betancourt in the Majors last season, because he was not yet ready to pitch on consecutive days, but he said he wanted him back for 2015.

Betancourt turns 40 on April 29. If he wins a spot, he could give the Rockies two relievers in their 40s. LaTroy Hawkins, 42, earned 23 saves in 26 appearances for the Rockies last season, and is back in the closer role.

"I have another chance," Betancourt said by phone from his offseason home in Orlando, Fla. "Compared to how it was last year or even when I was pitching in games, I feel a lot more normal now.

"When I threw for the Rockies last week, I threw all my pitches -- fastball, changeup and breaking ball. Last year I didn't throw any breaking balls, because my arm felt weird. It's 16 months after surgery and everything is going well. I'm also happy the Rockies stuck with me; they have a new GM [Jeff Bridich] but still were there for me, and I appreciate that."

Quintanilla, 33, played with the Rockies from 2005-09 (.220, two home runs, 32 RBIs in 216 games) as a middle-infield utility man. Since, he has played for the Rangers, Orioles and Mets. In 2013 with the Mets, Quintanilla played in a career-high 95 games and hit .222 with two homers and 29 RBIs. Last season, Quintanilla hit .207 in 15 Major League games, and .232 in 46 games at Triple-A Las Vegas.

The addition of Quintanilla gives the Rockies an extra option with shortstop range if All-Star Troy Tulowitzki needs to be spelled or -- in a scenario the Rockies have seen often in recent years -- is injured. Among the players who appeared last season, Charlie Culberson has the best shortstop range, but he struggled offensively in 2014 (.195 in 95 games). Rafael Ynoa and Cristhian Adames had strong years in the Minors, and Ynoa hit .343 in 19 Major League games, but to varying degrees profile better in the Majors at second base and third base.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.