DENVER -- Former Rockies closer Rafael Betancourt, who is under a Minor League contract as he completes his return from Tommy John surgery last September, faced hitters for the first time on Friday and hopes to pitch for Rookie-level Grand Junction by July 1.
Betancourt threw 26 pitches to left-handed hitting Ryan Wheeler and right-handed hitting Kyle Parker on Friday, and is aiming to throw 30 pitches Monday. Barring any setbacks, Betancourt will throw one "live" batting practice session at Grand Junction before appearing in games.
The Rockies are tentatively planning for Betancourt to pitch at every level of the Minor League system and attempt to have him come back before the end of the year.
A comeback before the season is done is feasible, based on the fact that Cardinals reliever Jason Motte returned in May, a year and a few days after his Tommy John surgery. Betancourt's put-away pitch was his slider, which stresses the elbow. So since he has begun to throw bullpen sessions, Betancourt has been sticking with fastballs and changeups, and could return relying on the velocity difference and movement.
Trio of injured Rockies join forces to play catch
DENVER -- An unusual game of catch broke out in the right-field corner at Coors Field on Friday.
Carlos Gonzalez had his left (throwing) hand wrapped because of recent surgery to remove a benign tumor, so all he could do was catch. Beside him was right-handed pitcher Jordan Lyles, whose left (catching) hand was in a splint because it's broken.
At the other end, Nolan Arenado wore his glove on his left hand, but couldn't catch throws with it because he was just beginning exercises to rehab a broken middle finger. Beside him was able-bodied head athletic trainer Keith Dugger. So Lyles and Arenado threw, and had Gonzalez and Dugger to catch for them.
All are on the disabled list, but Arenado appears the closest to returning. Arenado, injured May 23, had a positive medical report on Tuesday. He will consult with Cleveland hand specialist Dr. Thomas Graham soon to see exactly where the hand stands. Arenado said he hopes to be hitting next week and return within two weeks, but that's not an official timetable.
"I'm obviously pushing it, trying to get out there as quick as I can," Arenado said. "The doctors are going to make sure I'm 100 percent before that happens.
"Fielding I'm not worried about it. You don't really feel with the fingers, the glove kind of takes over and stuff like that. Holding the bat is going to be a little different. I haven't really bent my finger yet so it's going to probably feel weird. This whole week is going to be good to get the motion back and then pick up the bat. Hopefully I'll feel a lot more comfortable."
Toward the end of batting practice, Dugger rolled Arenado groundballs at third base. He fielded with his feet set and made off-balance pickups and throws. As is the case during games, Arenado, who earned a Rawlings Gold Glove Award last year as a rookie but has made some throwing errors this season on routine plays, was more accurate with throws across the diamond when he was moving.
Logan 'feels strong' after second bullpen session
DENVER -- Rockies lefty reliever Boone Logan threw a bullpen session on Friday, his second since being placed on the 15-day disabled list June 5 with right elbow inflammation.
Logan, who signed a three-year, $16.5 million contract during the offseason, underwent surgery to remove bone chips and a bone spur last October. Logan arrived at Rockies' Spring Training on a slowed-down schedule and joined the team a week into the season. He carried a 2.45 ERA through his first 13 appearances, but gave up runs in five of his last eight appearances before being placed on the DL with a 14.54 ERA and three home runs against in those games.
Even at his best, Logan experienced pain, but it worsened and eventually diminished his effectiveness. Logan said the rest he's had since the injury has helped.
"I can deal with how I feel; I feel a lot better," Logan said. "I'm probably not going to feel 100 percent until well after the season is over, but where I feel right now, it's very doable. I feel strong. I don't know what my timetable is.
"My last outing, I knew I'd been scuffling and the pain was getting to the point where I was tired of feeling like that. It was weighing me down physically and mentally, and I was feeling restricted and not being myself out there on the field. I hadn't been helping the team out and I wasn't feeling to my standards. I thought about it hard that night driving home."
Logan's DL placement came at a time when the Rockies were struggling and so was the bullpen. He realized it was better to get healthy and rejoin when he feels better.
"When the team gets rolling, I want to be rolling right along with them," he said. "We'll see how it goes from here, but it's a lot better now."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.