Betancourt completes comeback, makes Opening Day roster

Reliever set to make return, 1 1/2 years removed from Tommy John surgery

Betancourt completes comeback, makes Opening Day roster

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Rockies on Wednesday purchased the contract of right-hander Rafael Betancourt, who has completed a comeback from Tommy John surgery in 2013. Manager Walt Weiss also informed switch-hitting infielder Rafael Ynoa he has made the Opening Day roster.

The moves came on the day the club optioned outfielder Brandon Barnes and lefty reliever Rex Brothers to the Minors. The moves were connected as Brothers is working on various corrections. Ynoa was kept instead of Barnes because Weiss wanted infield protection -- Daniel Descalso would be the only reserve, otherwise.

Weiss said witnessing Betancourt, who turns 40 on April 29, suffer a torn right elbow ligament during a game against the Phillies was "one of my worst moments as a manager." Wednesday was one of his best, after watching Betancourt regain his velocity and pitch sharply this spring (1-0, 1.04 ERA in nine games).

"We said when it happened, if anybody can come back from this, it'd be Raffy," Weiss said. "Sometimes that's just something people say. But with him, he proved us right."

Betancourt joins closer LaTroy Hawkins, John Axford, Adam Ottavino and Brooks Brown as righty relievers. Lefties Boone Logan and Christian Friedrich complete a seven-man bullpen.

On days an infielder -- especially shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who will receive periodic off time early because of his injury history -- rests, Ynoa's presence is bench protection.

Ynoa's first career Opening Day roster assignment comes after he followed a .343 performance in 19 games late last season with a .300 batting average this spring. Ynoa, 26, joined the Rockies before last season after being part of the Dodgers' system since 2006 without ever receiving a callup.

"He's confirmed what we thought about him after we saw him last year," Weiss said. "I think he walked in [to Weiss' office] thinking he was going to get sent out. Those are great moments, especially for a manager, when you're able to reward guys that have worked really hard.

"Tough thing is you have those difficult conversations with guys that have worked extremely hard, too."

The Rockies are carrying three catchers -- Nick Hundley, Michael McKenry and Wilin Rosario, with Rosario also serving as Justin Morneau's backup at first base. There will be just four outfielders -- lefty-hitting regulars Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon and Corey Dickerson, and righty-swinging Drew Stubbs.

It sets in motion a year in which the roster will be flexible, since the team will go between seven and eight relievers during the season. Also, at some point, likely early, the team's most-accomplish starting pitcher, lefty Jorge De La Rosa, will return after nursing a left groin injury.

"This isn't the final roster you're going to see all year," Weiss said. "I have a pretty good feeling it's going to be different in 10 days."

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.