DENVER -- While spending Spring Training with the Rockies this year, veteran reliever Jason Motte arranged for some cancer patients from the Colorado Children's Hospital to spend some time with him and his teammates.Now a member of the Braves, Motte invited some of those children to Coors Field on Monday
DENVER -- While spending Spring Training with the Rockies this year, veteran reliever Jason Motte arranged for some cancer patients from the Colorado Children's Hospital to spend some time with him and his teammates.
Now a member of the Braves, Motte invited some of those children to Coors Field on Monday night to watch Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis make his first start since being diagnosed with testicular cancer in December. After tossing seven scoreless innings and experiencing the thrill of an emotional victory over Atlanta, Bettis took time to reunite with some of these kids, who are now among the many who can view the pitcher as a source of hope and inspiration.
"Just seeing him out there for some of those kids was a good message," Motte said. "It showed [cancer] won't define you and you can beat this by keeping that positive attitude and staying strong during this tough fight."
Inspired by the care his wife's grandfather received after being diagnosed with cancer in 2010, Motte began the Jason Motte Foundation and the Strikeout Cancer campaign, which inspired the creation of the popular T-shirts adorned with a backwards K.
To help celebrate and commemorate Monday night's return, Motte had some of his T-shirts made with an inscription that read, Together With Bettis.
Before meeting with the children, Motte and Bettis met in Coors Field's tunnel to share the significance of the moment together and extend the friendship that developed as they spent last season as teammates in Colorado.
"It was very emotional to see him," Bettis said. "Both of us were trying very hard to hold back our tears. I saw him again today, but the first time I saw him was last night after the game. What he, himself and his wife, and his foundation did for my family and me, I'm forever grateful for what he's done."
Though he was wearing the opposing uniform, Motte certainly didn't attempt to hide the pride and emotions he felt when Bettis took the mound and delivered his first pitch on Monday night. The two had shared numerous phone conversations during the offseason and strengthened their bond during Spring Training.
"When I saw him the other day after the game, I gave him a good long hug," Motte said. "I love that guy. Even when I was out there before the game began, I got teary-eyed just watching him take the mound. I'm getting worked up right now, just thinking about it."
Motte's foundation will continue to aid many cancer victims he will likely never know. His motivation to continue aiding in this fight has been further strengthened as he now counts Bettis, and Cubs players Anthony Rizzo and Jonathan Lester among his former Major League teammates who have conquered some form of cancer and continued to excel at their craft.
"Stories like that are what drive people and give them the feeling that they can beat cancer," Motte said.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.