Bettis thankful for fans' support at Caravan

Rox righty expected to be ready for season after cancer surgery

Bettis thankful for fans' support at Caravan

DENVER -- Seeing right-handed pitcher Chad Bettis has relieved any fears Rockies fans may have harbored.

Bettis, catcher Tony Wolters and second baseman DJ LeMahieu made three appearances in the Denver area Monday as part of the Rockies' 2017 Winter Caravan. Bettis was diagnosed in November with testicular cancer, but a surgery to remove the testicle eliminated the cancer and put him in position to start the season on time.

Bettis, who turns 28 on April 26, had offered assurances several times in interviews, but there was nothing like having him in the flesh, talking to fans young and old, signing baseballs and pictures and other items.

"It's been overwhelming the support that I've gotten from them in this long process that I've gone through," Bettis said. "Not only that, but take it into the season. It's been exciting, because we know as players what our expectations are, what our goals are. But to see the excitement on the fans' faces -- the season is here, the season is coming. It's awesome."

Bettis, who finished 14-8 with a 4.79 ERA in 32 starts in '16, is considered a leader in the Rockies' rotation. He lost little preparation time despite the surgery, recovery and requisite followup testing. Bettis said he weighs 210 pounds. As intended, he's slightly lighter and more flexible than last year.

As for the arm, Bettis threw a 25-pitch bullpen session -- 20 fastballs, five changeups -- on Friday at the team's training center in Scottsdale, Ariz., and will throw another on Wednesday.

"He looked really good -- [velocity] was there, his direction was good, and he looked like he was in really good shape," said Wolters, who caught the session. "He didn't look tired at all. He's working hard, eating right and doing all the right things."

LeMahieu has spent the offseason in Michigan, where his parents live, so he is like the fans, seeing for themselves that reports are accurate.

"When I first heard it, I was kind of shocked -- it's not something you want to go through or see [someone] go through as a teammate," LeMahieu said. "But he's handled it so well and seeing his spirits -- he's just ready to get after baseball again -- is great."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.