For the first time since being diagnosed with testicular cancer in the offseason, Colorado Rockies starter Chad Bettis returned to the mound on Sunday in a matchup against the Milwaukee Brewers in Phoenix.
Bettis, now cancer-free and focused on the future rather than the past, allowed just one hit (a home run to Brewers designated hitter Hernan Perez) in his two innings of work. He mixed his six outs evenly, striking out two (of the first three batters he faced) while logging two ground outs and two fly outs.
“It felt good. It’s exciting and fun to get back out there,” Bettis said. “It was a huge step. I’m taking it a day at time still. It was a lot of fun today. I had a great time. We’ll see what tomorrow is in store.”
He returned to the mound with authority, striking out Brett Phillips looking to open the game. It was one of two Ks Bettis recorded in the frame.
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“At the point in time, I was trying to slow myself down,” Bettis admitted. “I was kind of upset because I was running through my delivery. But no, it felt good. It felt great.”
Part of the challenge for Bettis on Sunday was using the game as a step back toward where he ended the 2016 season with a 7-2 mark and 3.75 ERA over his last 14 starts.
“There have been some mechanical things that I changed up a little bit, kind of getting back to what we did last year,” Bettis said. “A little bit of what I want to do now, be a little more powerful. I feel like I’m connected. It was a good first step. I felt good. I felt connected. That’s how I wanted to feel.
“Yes, it felt different but that being said, it was fun. That’s one thing I want to focus on this year is having a lot of fun. There are some things I need to learn from this. I was anxious. I was excited. Adrenaline was pumping and there was a little nervousness. This was a good first step. I didn’t want to let it all go this first time. It was a building block.”
Bettis chose to not place too much meaning on his first appearance of the spring season.
“There is some reflection there but at the same time, it’s a baseball game,” Bettis said.
So what does Bettis take toward his next spring training start?
“Slowing it down a little more,” he said. “I felt I was rushing a little bit but in the big scheme of things, it as one game. I felt like those last four pitches was where I wanted them to be so I’ll work off that.”
He’ll also work toward maybe a different kind of attitude than we saw from the 27-year-old right-hander last season.
“I think I was approaching it maybe a little too seriously last year,” he said. “You have to take this game serious. I’m not saying that you can’t. But I want to have more fun and I’m going to do that.”