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Bettis rejoins Rockies after bout with cancer

Right-hander is eyeing All-Star break as return date but won't rush back
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis returned to Coors Field on Tuesday possessing rare perspective. He's a goal-oriented person who actually can appreciate the present.

Bettis, cleared to begin preparing to return to action after a bout with testicular cancer, did a little throwing and spent the rest of the day just enjoying being with his teammates. And while he would love to be pitching for the Rockies in a little more than a month, he will exercise patience with this part of his journey.

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DENVER -- Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis returned to Coors Field on Tuesday possessing rare perspective. He's a goal-oriented person who actually can appreciate the present.

Bettis, cleared to begin preparing to return to action after a bout with testicular cancer, did a little throwing and spent the rest of the day just enjoying being with his teammates. And while he would love to be pitching for the Rockies in a little more than a month, he will exercise patience with this part of his journey.

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"I'm a goal-oriented person," Bettis said. "I think that's particularly something to drive to and push to and get to, but at the same time, I want to do this right. I don't want to get back too fast and then end up hurting myself or hurting our team. I think that, like I said, it'd be nice to be back by the All-Star break, but I'm not sure."

Video: Bettis discusses his timetable for return

Bettis' cancer was diagnosed in November and he underwent surgery then, as well. After at first believing he was healthy enough to prepare for the season, he learned in March that he'd have to undergo chemotherapy. But Bettis has completed the scheduled treatments, and now it's a matter of building stamina before preparing to pitch.

"The strength is there," Bettis said. "It's much more the stamina. Going through the chemo, I realize what it can do to your lungs. I've got to get that back. I found myself a little bit short of breath today at the very end of throwing.

"But then again, with cardio, I'd bike about 5 miles and that first day, I was winded. I was gassed down in Arizona. I waited a day, did it again and my body adjusted and felt a lot better. It's something I need to understand where that mark is, don't get crazy and push the envelope, but at the same time get to that point where I'm able to build that lung capacity back."

Bettis said he would love to throw from a mound within two weeks, but he doesn't know for sure if that's realistic, and he's adhering to the advice he was given: to not to put himself on a timetable. Besides, he and his wife, Kristina, welcomed their first child, Everleigh Rae, on March 27, and that gave him a purpose beyond returning to the diamond.

"Baseball is secondary," Bettis said. "I think your perspective changes vastly. It doesn't become about our job anymore. It becomes about your life. I think my perspective has changed, but also I have grown to appreciate baseball even more so. I think that's what got me through this for sure."

Bettis said he has been in contact recently with Pirates right-hander Jameson Taillon, who received a testicular cancer diagnosis and underwent surgery last month. Taillon is scheduled for his third Minor League rehab start Wednesday in Triple-A and is nearing a return to the Pirates rotation.

"What he's doing is nothing short of extreme -- or not extreme -- but great," Bettis said. "I think I texted him, and he was talking to me and he was saying, 'I just want to get back. I just want to get back and do what I love doing.' And I was like, 'I get it. I was in the exact same spot you were when I first had surgery. I was trying to get back. I wanted to be normal again and play well and get back to helping our team win.'

"What he's doing is great. I think it speaks volumes of him and the person that he is."

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

Colorado Rockies, Chad Bettis