TUCSON, Ariz. -- Rafael Betancourt gave the Colorado Rockies bullpen a much-needed lift Saturday, pitching in his first game of the spring. The fact that he was facing minor leaguers was of little consequence.
Slowed by right shoulder inflammation this spring, Betancourt pitched the first inning for the Rockies high Class-A Modesto team against the Los Angeles Angels' Rancho Cucamonga affiliate while the Rockies' big league club beat the Angels' top team 11-10.He threw 10 pitches -- eight strikes -- to four batters, giving up a liner to the shortstop, a double to left-center followed by a grounder to first and a called strikeout."I liked the way I pitched, the way I threw the ball," Betancourt said. "I was throwing strikes. For the first game, that feels good."Betancourt became the eighth-inning setup man for the Rockies after being acquired from Cleveland on July 23.Closer Huston Street (right shoulder inflammation) will be on the disabled list when the Rockies open the regular season April 5 and is expected to miss most of the month. Left-hander Franklin Morales is all but certain to move from his seventh-inning spot into the closer's role.So as the Rockies adjust the back end of their bullpen, it's reassuring that they'll have Betancourt ready to start the season.He fastball was clocked at 88-92 mph against the Angels minor leaguers -- hitting 91 mph and 92 mph with two of his first three pitches -- and then completed his work day by throwing 16 more pitches against four Rockies minor leaguers. In all, Betancourt said he threw two changeups, six or seven sliders and the rest fastballs."I liked every bit of it," Rockies trainer Keith Dugger said. "He wasn't laboring. Velocity was probably better than I thought it'd be. He threw all his pitches, too, which was great. I think he had a little adrenaline those first two pitches, when we saw the velocity up there and then he settled down."Betancourt is expected to make his Cactus League debut Tuesday when the Rockies play the Padres."I know [by] pitching, my arm's going to get stronger," Betancourt said. "What I was looking for was to feel healthy and be able to throw the ball without any pains. Now I try to keep working and get my arm to [full] strength."
Jeff Francis started for the Rockies in the win and allowed six hits and six runs -- four earned -- in four innings with two walks and five strikeouts. "My curveball and my changeup were getting me into bad counts, and I had to come in with fastballs," said Francis, who was missed all last season following shoulder surgery on Feb. 25, 2009. ... Eric Young Jr. had a three-run triple. ... Angels OF Juan Rivera homered among his three hits and had two RBIs for the Angels. ... Rockies reliever Matt Belisle, who pitched a 1-2-3 fifth, has retired the last nine batters he has faced and has allowed two hits in five scoreless innings this spring. ... Jason Giambi picked up his first RBI of the spring with a double to deep right-center in the third. After going 1-for-3 in his fourth spring game, Giambi is 2-for-10 with two doubles. ... Angels starter Scott Kazmir, whose Cactus League debut was delayed slightly by right hamstring tightness, gave up five hits and three runs in four innings. "It's all feel for me," Kazmir said. "I feel strong. That's the main thing in the spring."