Betancourt brings back fire in return from elbow injury

Former Rockies closer delivers scoreless inning in first outing since 2013

Betancourt brings back fire in return from elbow injury

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The anxiousness and the competitive spirit came back for Rockies right-handed pitcher Rafael Betancourt on Saturday.

In his first Major League outing since suffering an elbow injury Aug. 22, 2013, Betancourt worked around a two-out, Chris Coghlan double during a scoreless inning in a 7-5 victory over the Cubs at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. Betancourt ended the inning by working David Ross into a fly ball to left. He struck out power-hitting prospect Kris Bryant early in the frame.

Betancourt, the Rockies' closer before the injury, is in camp under a Minor League contract and can earn a $1 million Major League salary, with incentives based on appearances and games finished.

"Every time I go in the game, it matters for me -- even before I was hurt, it's always been like that," said Betancourt, who turns 40 on April 29. "I like to get in all those situations to see how I'm going to feel.

"I was very anxious. It had been a long time since facing big-league hitters. I'm on a mission, first to show that I'm healthy and prove to them I can still pitch. I have to take care of myself to be able to do that."

Betancourt threw his fastball at 90 mph, a little below his career average of 92.1. He threw two breaking balls and two changeups. He worked on the changeup last year, when he began his comeback making 21 Minor League appearances for the Rockies at the Rookie and Triple-A levels (combined 2-0, 4.66 ERA, 15 strikeouts and eight walks in 19 1/3 innings).

"We saw the pinpoint command on display again," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "I thought it was a really positive first time out for Raffy."

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.