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Rockies happy with strides made by Bettis

Rockies happy with strides made by Bettis

SAN DIEGO -- The Rockies are seeing results from reliever Chad Bettis, a talented right-hander who could end up playing a big part in the late innings for the club.

Bettis, in the Majors at the start of the year for the first time in his career, gave up runs in three of his first four appearances this season. But in his last three games entering Thursday, he had pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings, with three strikeouts, two hits and one walk. All of the games have been close.

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"I was encouraged by Chad's outing [Wednesday] night," manager Walt Weiss said of Bettis' clean eighth with one strikeout that kept the Rockies close in a 4-2 loss to the Padres. "It's a matter of throwing his changeup enough so it gets hitters off his fastball. He's got such a great changeup, a power changeup, and it bottoms out. When a hitter sees that, it puts some doubt in his mind in fastball counts."

Bettis was a starter and a reliever at Texas Tech before the Rockies drafted him in the second round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, and he was a starter throughout his Minor League career and when he broke in with the Rockies last year. Bettis developed a solid breaking ball as well as his fastball-changeup combo, and he has worked that into his relief repertoire.

The curve was a pitch the White Sox Jose Abreu hit for a homer at the end of a long at-bat in a key situation on April 8, but Bettis generally has been able to fit an effective curve into his attack as a put-away pitch. A two-inning scoreless stint against the Giants, after giving up a double to the first hitter he faced, was the beginning of Bettis showing he's a fast learner.

"It's just doing what you're expected to do, trying to give your team the best shot to win," Bettis said. "It's about learning hitters and learning the league. You learn what you've done before, what they might be expecting, and then going from there."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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