SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) The Colorado Rockies sent veteran reliever Rex Brothers and outfielder Brandon Barnes to the minors Wednesday, opening a roster spot for 39-year-old reliever Rafael Betancourt in his comeback from elbow surgery.
Betancourt was Colorado’s closer in 2013 when he tore the ulnar collateral ligament. The right-hander rehabbed all of last season and accepted a non-roster invite to camp this spring.
Despite a scary moment when he was hit by a line drive in the jaw, Betancourt has a 1.04 ERA in nine appearances.
”I love when the game rewards the good guys,” manager Walt Weiss said. ”He’s been thinking about this day since the night he walked off that mound in Philadelphia. He was committed to coming back.
”He looks like the same guy that he was in 2013, which is pretty amazing, at his age.”
The Rockies also sent outfielder Matt McBride and right-hander Scott Oberg to minor league camp, giving spots on the 25-man roster to infielder Rafael Ynoa and left-hander Christian Friedrich.
The 27-year-old Brothers had a 1.74 ERA and 19 saves for Colorado in 2013. But the 2009 first-round pick followed a poor end to last season with an inconsistent spring.
After a career-worst 5.59 ERA in 2014, with 39 walks in just over 56 innings, control problems hit Brothers again.
In the left-hander’s last three appearances, Brothers gave up six runs and five hits with five walks and hit a batter in 2 2-3 innings.
”We’re trying to get the best version of Rex,” Weiss said. ”We felt like the best environment to do that was a minor league environment as opposed to protecting leads in a major league game with some of the things he’s working on.”
Barnes hit .257 in 132 games with the Rockies last year. Weiss said they wanted to carry an extra infielder, and Ynoa was the choice. He had a solid end to 2014 following his first big league callup and had a good spring.
The Rockies still must trim four players by this weekend. Those decisions will be based on the numerous injuries in their starting rotation.