It's about 90 feet from the Rockies dugout to the pitcher's mound at Coors Field.
Chad Bettis will make that trip for the first time this season on Monday night. However his journey to the mound in 2017 was much longer than that.
“I know that, not only will everybody in this clubhouse be pulling for him, but everybody in Major League Baseball will be pulling for him,” first baseman Mark Reynolds said.
Bettis was diagnosed with testicular cancer in November of 2016. He had surgery to remove the testicle and believed he had rid his body of cancer. A routine check up in March showed that the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes. Baseball took a back seat at that point as Bettis prepared to fight with chemotherapy.
Five months later he once again believes cancer is behind him and now makes his return to the Majors.
“It’s an amazing thing, what he’s been able to do. I’m very happy for him. I’m very excited," third baseman Nolan Arenado said. "We all love Bettis, and we’re happy to have him back. It’s going to be a great moment. Hopefully, he can deal like he knows he can. That’d be an unbelievable day. It’s just a credit to Bettis’ hard work to put himself in this situation.”
Prior to Monday's game the buzz in the Rockies clubhouse was all about the emotional return of No. 35.
“We’re excited for this, and I know if you ask Chad, You know what Chad wants? He wants to pitch well. He wants to pitch well for the Colorado Rockies. But, it’s going to be great to have him back, and to be a part of our group. I know the guys are excited to play behind him and play with him,” Manager Bud Black said.
Bettis returns in a tough spot. The Rockies just got swept in Miami. Prior to any medical problems Bettis was supposed to be a veteran stopper in the middle of the Rockies rotation. A consistent arm capable of going out and throwing quality innings and putting the team in a spot to win every start. He needs to be that immediately for a team contending for a spot in the postseason.
“He just needs to go out there and pitch," starter Tyler Chatwood said. "It’s a special game for him, so I think he’s just going to go out there and do his thing. I hope he dominates, but either way, it’s pretty special what he did.”
“The good thing about Bettis, is he knows that," Arenado said. "I guarantee if he pitched badly tonight, he’d be pretty pissed about that, knowing that. But, we expect him to do well, and he’s confident. And, we’re confident in him.”
Bettis lead the team in wins a season ago, so this is potentially a huge addition to the Rockies for the stretch run. But it starts with his first walk out to the mound at 20th and Blake.
It could be loudest we've heard Coors Field get for a pitcher warming up.
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