Bettis still contending for Rockies' rotation spot

Colorado has plan for Axford; Dickerson scratched as precaution

Bettis still contending for Rockies' rotation spot

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-handed pitcher Chad Bettis won't go away easily.

The Rockies optioned Bettis to Minor League camp March 22, but the club has called him back twice for games, the latest a four-inning effort Tuesday in a 4-3 loss to the Giants. And with the Rockies scrambling for a fourth starter, Bettis is back in consideration for the Opening Day roster.

On Tuesday, Bettis gave up two runs on four hits and two walks with three strikeouts. He forced a Brandon Crawford grounder with two on and two out in the seventh, but gave up two runs with two down in the eighth.

The demotion was for two reasons -- to give Bettis consistent innings and extra work on changes the Rockies wanted him to make to his pitching motion. The changes have taken well enough that manager Walt Weiss said, "We have open competition and he's still in the mix."

Bettis said the changes aren't quite natural but "it's close."

"Things can happen fast," Bettis said. "And it's nice to be considered in the mix."

• Weiss identifies with righty reliever John Axford, who has missed time recently because his 2 1/2-year-old son was bitten by a rattlesnake. Weiss was a Braves player in 1998 when his son, Brody, was infected with E. coli. Brody has dealt with related issues ever since but is healthy and playing baseball at Riverside (Calif.) Community College.

Weiss added the club has mapped out a throwing program that could have Axford ready for the start of the season, but he wants to be sure Axford is "in the right frame of mind."

• The Rockies scratched left fielder Corey Dickerson just before Tuesday's game as a precautionary measure. Dickerson has been bothered by lower-back tightness since Saturday. Brandon Barnes started and went 2-for-3, after going 2-for-12 in his previous four games.

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.