Bettis gets clean bill of health

Bettis gets clean bill of health

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis loves operating on the outskirts early in Spring Training. But his health report was in the spotlight for good reason Wednesday.

Bettis has periodic checkups since undergoing surgery for testicular cancer in late November. He had blood work done Tuesday, and Wednesday received good news.

"Today was a big day for me; it was a clean bill of health," Bettis said. "I got the blood work back from the doctor, met with him today, and he said my tumor markers are not detectable."

Bettis on Rockies rotation

Bettis received enthusiastic well-wishes from teammates, coaches and club officials. But, by design, not many fans noticed he was around.

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While other pitchers faced hitters, Bettis loosened up for a bullpen session that would have been solitary. But Nolan Arenado asked to stand in the batter's box to give him a hitter visual. But little of his work was done in the view of fans, who watched the diamonds at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. 

Bettis won't pitch the first time through the Cactus League rotation. He'll throw a simulated game next Tuesday, and after that he'll appear in Cactus League games.

In 2015, Bettis was held out of spring games until late in camp to correct delivery flaws. He has now determined that the early part of camp is more valuable for fundamentals than competition.

"It allows me to focus a little bit more on what I really want to accomplish, and not getting too far from making sure I'm sound with my fastball down and away," Bettis said. "Too early, there are a lot of variables that can pop in there. Being able to focus on perfecting what I want to and getting that down to a tee before I go into competition really benefits me."

Bettis went 14-8 with a 4.79 ERA in 32 starts last year - 8-2, 4.44 in 14 home starts.

Bettis, who turns 28 on April 26, continues to stay in touch with doctors -- he consulted with them during the last couple of days - but so far, so good.

New Rockies manager Bud Black said, "I can't say enough about his mental strength through this, and we'll find out more as we go really, truly where this is headed, and where he is as it relates to baseball. But, man, what a story."

Bettis said, "All the support I've been getting from the fans has been great, nothing but joyous."

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.