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Bettis honing craft after healthy offseason

Pitcher able to recover from cancer in 2017, refining motion and mental focus
March 7, 2018

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis intended to concentrate on the feel of a certain part of his delivery during Wednesday's "B" game against the Angels. But giving up four runs, two on a Carlos Perez homer, didn't feel good.After that, Bettis threw three scoreless innings, and took the

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis intended to concentrate on the feel of a certain part of his delivery during Wednesday's "B" game against the Angels. But giving up four runs, two on a Carlos Perez homer, didn't feel good.
After that, Bettis threw three scoreless innings, and took the outing as an overall positive. Bettis' fastball topped out at 91 mph -- considerably below the 92.8 mph he averaged while going 22-14 over the 2015 and 2016 seasons. But his cutter, curve and changeup were effective, and he finished with five strikeouts.
The cerebral Bettis, who made nine starts late last season after overcoming testicular cancer, decided he wanted to get the feel of the "balance point." In layman's terms, it's between where the windup ends and the actual pitch begins.
"I was trying to feel the gathering, and the strength and power of coming up to that pivotal point in my windup and my stretch," Bettis said. "[But] I felt that throughout my whole delivery, instead of saying, 'I got into that position. Now, go.' It was, 'Let's ride this out.'"
The result was a flat fastball, and a hanging curve to Perez -- a hitter who, little did Bettis know, sits on breaking pitches early in an at-bat. Manager Bud Black mentioned that after the outing.
Bettis also used the outing to work on a quick pitch with runners on base. Two were good, two others needed some work.
Catcher Tony Wolters was excited by how Bettis reversed the rough early going.
"He's athletic, and Chad knows his strengths and weaknesses, and that makes it quicker in how he can adjust," Wolters said. "His strength is the mental side of it. How he uses an outing is he sees the positive side of it and sees some of the things he needs to work on."
In nine starts after recovering from testicular cancer treatments, Bettis' four-seam fastball averaged 90.4 mph. He had averaged as high as 93.4 mph previously in his career. Bettis is coming off a full and healthy offseason, and expects to throw harder.
"Maybe not everybody, but it's natural for me," Bettis said. "I don't know where I was at today. I felt like the ball was coming out good."
:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::
Senzatela makes a statement
Righty Antonio Senzatela held the Rangers to one run -- a home run by Joey Gallo -- and four hits in four innings of the Rockies 5-4 win on Wednesday. He's attempting to earn a starting rotation spot, and the zero walks will catch his managers eye.
"I did pretty good with that, because last two outings I walked people," Senzatela said. "I don't like that."
Last spring, Senzatela made the Opening Day rotation despite not having pitched at a higher level than Double-A -- 34 2/3 innings -- the previous year. This time, like last, he's not obsessing about the competition.
"I don't put too much attention on that," he said. "I just go out, do my job, compete in the game and throw the ball for a strike."
Extra work
Outfielder David Dahl, seeking better timing, went 2-for-4 in the "B" game against Angels right-hander Nick Tropeano. Dahl had gone 0-for-3 with two strikeouts against the Mariners on Tuesday night. But Dahl's day wasn't over after the "B" game. He started in left field against the Rangers, and had an RBI groundout in three at-bats.
"I feel good. I want as many at-bats as I possibly can get, because it does take a little bit of time to really get going," Dahl said, after 10 at-bats in less than 24 hours. "In '16, I had a great year, but I didn't feel really great until the end of April or May."
Injury report
• Outfielder Gerardo Parra, who underwent surgery to remove a broken hamate bone in his right hand just before Spring Training, took batting practice Wednesday against Minor Leaguers, and expects to begin Cactus League play soon. Black said he potentially could pencil Parra into the leadoff position this spring, as the Rockies figure out ways to move Charlie Blackmon from No. 1 to No. 3 in the order. 
• Infielder Pat Valaika hit off a tee Wednesday for the first time since straining his left oblique early in camp. He has been taking ground balls and throwing.
• Righty Yency Almonte, the Rockies' No. 10 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, took Tuesday off after being hit on the right shoulder by a line drive on Monday. But he said the injury has healed and he will proceed as normal.
• Catcher Chris Iannetta was hit on the left hand by a fourth-inning pitch from Rangers starter Clayton Blackburn, and left the game after running the bases. But he was smiling while talking to athletic trainers in the dugout, and was not accompanied by the trainers when he left. The Rockies reported after the game that he was fine.
Up next
Lefty Kyle Freeland, who has yielded five runs in five innings in his two Cactus League appearances, will start Thursday against the Reds at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick at 1:10 p.m. MST. Additionally, righty Ryan Castellani, the Rockies' No. 8 prospect, is also scheduled to pitch.

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