Rockies' Bettis says his cancer has spread

Right-hander will begin chemotherapy; hopes to pitch this year

March 10th, 2017

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-handed pitcher announced Friday that his testicular cancer had unexpectedly spread, and he will soon begin chemotherapy. The club announced that he'll undergo treatments in Arizona over the next several weeks.

Bettis, who was scheduled to pitch Friday night against the Reds at Goodyear, Ariz., announced the diagnosis in a tweet at 11:10 a.m. MT:

Bettis, manager Bud Black and head athletic trainer Keith Dugger addressed the media on the situation Friday morning. The right-hander said he was hopeful that he'd pitch this season if his treatment goes smoothly, but there isn't a timeline for his return.

"The biopsy was last Thursday, and then we were just kind of waiting for the results to come back this week, and then had a meeting with our oncologist Tuesday," Bettis explained. "So that's when we kind of found out everything and that's when we started drawing up a plan."

Bettis, 27, was caught by surprise by the latest diagnosis, because the results of his blood tests had been promising since he underwent surgery on Nov. 29. 

"The bloodwork has been good since after my testes had been removed," Bettis said. "That was kind of the weird thing about it. That's a little bit unusual. But [the testing] was something that we felt needed to be done. We wanted to know what was causing the growth in the lymph nodes. So we felt we were able to reach one and biopsy it. So we just went ahead and did that.

"It's unfortunate. It sucks, honestly. But it was something at the point in time, initially going through everything, that we [knew we] might have to go through this anyway. So the mindset was kind of always there, that I might have to go through a round of chemo initially. ... It was something that was already in my head initially, [but] knowing that I have to go through it and it puts me at a really high cure rate is much better for me."

Black, who was hired before Bettis' diagnosis went public, said he and the club are being as supportive as possible as Bettis goes through the ups and downs that come with the disease.

"Experience tells me that you never really know the outcome of cancer and where it's going to take someone … even though this is a situation where he's going to be out of action, we still feel good about what's going to happen eventually medically," Black said. "It's a blow, because Chad wants to play. He wants to pitch. But he knows what has to take place for him in the next few months to battle this and get back on a Major League field."

Bettis was optimistic about his prognosis for recovery, and he said his cure rate was in the "90-plus-percent" range.

"Knowing that we caught it early and that the blood tumor markers [are] still non-detectable and normal, it's huge," Bettis said. "So we caught this early, and it's a big thing."

For now, baseball is on the back burner, but returning to the mound will never be far from Bettis' mind during his treatment.

"I've got to get this beat and get it out of me, but it's also what's still driving me -- to get back out there optimistically this year," Bettis said. "We'll see how everything goes and go from there."

Bettis' absence leaves the Rockies with three clear rotation members -- righties and and lefty . Righties (the Rockies' No. 2 prospect and the overall No. 44 prospect, according to, (Rockies' No. 4, overall No. 73) and (Rockies' No. 9) and lefty (Rockies' No. 6) are healthy and in the race for the final two spots. Marquez and Freeland were scheduled to pitch Friday against the Reds.

Lefty Chris Rusin, who has pitched in starting and relief roles for the club the past two seasons, is out with an oblique injury and is seven to 10 days away from throwing, Black said.

It's unclear if the Rockies will acquire a more experienced pitcher for the rotation. If not, Black said he is confident in the talent level he has on the current roster.

"That [seeking to improve] doesn't stop, regardless of the situation, whether you think you're set with 25 players or not," Black said. "But with who we have in camp, we feel good about those guys."