LOS ANGELES -- As has been his plan since undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow last year, right-handed pitcher Rafael Betancourt has signed a Minor League contract with the Rockies.
Betancourt, who will turn 39 on Tuesday, will report to the team's training center at Scottsdale, Ariz., with the plan of beginning his road back when the Rookie League season opens at Grand Junction. Betancourt is hoping to make himself available to the Rockies for the stretch run this season.
The injury that led to the surgery occurred Aug. 22 at Philadelphia, and it was the end of a pain-filled year for Betancourt, who sustained a groin injury in May and an appendicitis attack not long after returning. He finished the year 2-5 with a 4.08 ERA and 16 saves.
Although he was eligible for free agency, Betancourt never considered another team. He met with the Rockies during the Winter Meetings -- which were in Orlando, Fla., where Betancourt has an offseason home -- to update his progress, and spent time working out with the Rockies during Spring Training and during the team's season-opening road trip in Miami.
The Rockies acquired Betancourt from the Indians for the stretch run in 2009, and he helped the team to the playoffs. His 264 relief appearances rank eighth in club history and he is fifth on the team's all-time saves list with 57.
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.Less