'Amazing' Betancourt battling for Rockies roster spot

Reliever tosses second scoreless outing since getting hit with line drive

'Amazing' Betancourt battling for Rockies roster spot

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Six days after being hit in the jaw by a line drive, ageless reliever Rafael Betancourt took another major step along the comeback trail by pitching a scoreless eighth inning for the Rockies on Wednesday in their 5-2 win over the Giants at Salt River Fields.

"You try to not put that kind of thing in your head," Betancourt said Wednesday. "It's part of the game."

Betancourt was hit by a liner off the bat of Kansas City's Brett Eibner and had to leave that game, more for precautionary reasons than anything else. Athletic trainers immediately looked at him and it was deemed he didn't suffer a concussion. He's made two appearances since then, both scoreless.

"Yeah, Rafi, Rafi is amazing," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "He still has that pinpoint command. He can clip the corners with everything he throws. He's still very effective."

And the line drive?

"He would have stayed in the game that day if we let him," Weiss said. "He's fine."

But that's not the half of it.

The 39-year-old right-hander and veteran of 11 big league seasons is in camp as a non-roster invitee on a Minor League contract after missing the entire 2014 season because of Tommy John surgery. He was Colorado's closer in 2012 and '13 and saved 47 games prior to the injury.

Now he's just trying to make it back. He's had six appearances this spring and pitched well, allowing a run on six hits with eight strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings. To Weiss' point, he hadn't walked a batter this spring until Andrew Susac earned a free pass as the second batter Betancourt faced Wednesday.

"It's been a very good spring; my arm feels good," Betancourt said. "I'm just trying to do what I need to do to help this team, to be part of this team. So far it's been great."

And after the game Wednesday, the Rockies sent out reliever Tommy Kahnle, perhaps clearing a spot for Betancourt in the bullpen. Weiss, though, wouldn't tip his hand.

"He's still battling for a spot," Weiss said about Betancourt, who simply shrugged his shoulders.

"I don't like to see it like that," he said. "Everyone here has a chance to make this team. But those kind of things are coming from the front office, the coaches, the manager. They're the ones who are going to make those decisions. For me, I just need to keep working hard. It's always been that way for me."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.