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Bettis' role still to be determined upon return

MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

ST. LOUIS -- Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis will make one more Minor League rehab start Thursday for Triple-A Albuquerque, and if all goes well, he could return to the big club as either a starter or a reliever, Rockies manager Bud Black said Monday.

Bettis, who hasn't pitched in the Majors since July 1 because of a right middle finger blister, has made two rehab starts. One was halted at 70 pitches because the blister flared, while the other -- Saturday at Colorado Springs -- was stopped after 74 pitches because of a rain delay. Bettis reported feeling good enough that he "could have easily gone 100-110 [pitches]."

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ST. LOUIS -- Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis will make one more Minor League rehab start Thursday for Triple-A Albuquerque, and if all goes well, he could return to the big club as either a starter or a reliever, Rockies manager Bud Black said Monday.

Bettis, who hasn't pitched in the Majors since July 1 because of a right middle finger blister, has made two rehab starts. One was halted at 70 pitches because the blister flared, while the other -- Saturday at Colorado Springs -- was stopped after 74 pitches because of a rain delay. Bettis reported feeling good enough that he "could have easily gone 100-110 [pitches]."

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Black said, "The hope is Chad goes to Triple-A without any weather delays and without any tenderness occurring in his finger and hopefully he can throw a good game, whatever that might be -- build a pitch count, get to 90-95-100 pitches and feel really confident about the way his finger feels."

For now, though, the Rockies have five men in a rotation that since June 28 leads Major League starters with a 2.86 ERA, and has posted a club single-month record 1.71 home ERA in July. The previous record was 2.80 in May 2006. Barring an injury to another starter, a decision would have to be made where Bettis best fits.

"Each day, each week, each couple of weeks, there's always an evolving situation," Black said. "It could be such that Chad doesn't fold back into the rotation. It might make sense for him to fortify our bullpen -- like what [lefty Chris] Rusin has done in the past, provide us a little length.

"We feel good about the aptitude and focus of Chad pitching in relief. It's something he hasn't done a lot, but we feel he can handle it. So, we'll see. He's three or four days away from his start in Triple-A, and a couple days recovery depending on his pitch count."

LeMahieu nearing a return

Second baseman DJ LeMahieu, eligible to return Tuesday from a left oblique injury that has him on the 10-day disabled list, will hit Tuesday at Busch Stadium in a simulated game thrown by Rusin, who is on the DL with left foot plantar fasciitis. And he may not be long from being activated. Black didn't pinpoint a date, but said LeMahieu's condition is "really good news."

Recovery from the break

The Rockies held shortstop Trevor Story out of the starting lineup on Monday for just the second time this season. Story hit a home run in the All-Star Game and enjoyed the experience, but has learned that the lack of a break can be taxing.

Video: 2018 ASG: Story ties it in 7th with solo HR

While the All-Stars generally play just part of the game, participating in the days of All-Star festivities requires energy. Since the break, Story was 7-for-28 with nine strikeouts and one extra-base hit.

"After the fact, and these days now, you kind of start to feel it," said Story, who is also 0-for-6 against Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez in his career. "You don't feel it or realize during the time that it's tiring, because it's so exciting and so fun."

Although Story hasn't hit, his defensive performance since the break has been full of highlight plays.

"It's not like I feel more tired on one side or the other," Story said. "Hitting's hard, and defense is hard, too. It's a hard game all around."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies, Chad Bettis