#MLBPlayers411 | Chad Bettis
Chad Bettis had won before he even stepped up on the mound on Monday night and pitched seven scoreless innings for the Rockies.
But his outstanding performance made the night that Bettis returned to the mound following a nine-month battle with testicular cancer that much more satisfying. By the time he got two fly ball outs with a runner on third in the seventh, he had expended just about every bit of emotional energy that had swelled up inside him as he worked to first beat the cancer then get back to his team.
“Man, this day feels like it went by so fast, but so slow,” he said. “I don't think I was really in tune with what was going on until the fifth. Just so many emotions and I was trying to get them under control, but it was taking longer than I expected.”
Bettis' life was turned upside down last November when he first learned about his testicular tumor. He had the testicle removed in December with an eye toward being back on the field for Spring Training, but those plans were dashed when tests in March showed the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes.
Instead, he underwent six weeks of chemotherapy, then had to regain his strength before he could even begin getting himself in shape to pitch a baseball game at the major league level. In April, Bettis and his wife, Kristina, also gave birth to their first child, Everliegh Rae.
So Betty, the nickname by which he is known by his teammates and the one he will wear on the back of his jersey for #PlayersWeekend, had been through about every emotion imaginable by the time he walked in from the bullpen and was met by his teammates who had lined up to greet him and 33,641 cheering fans at Coors Field.
"Normally I don't feel nervous for any game, but the emotions that we all had when he was coming from the 'pen after his warmups and just crossing next to us, just giving him a high five, the way he looked so locked in, it was impressive," Carlos Gonzalez said.
"You try to get your mind clear because of the task at hand, and then to be hit with that emotion, it was unbelievable," Bettis said. "Walking in it was deep breaths."
But there was still work to be done after that. At 28, Bettis is a veteran in the Rockies' young rotation who last season led the club with 32 starts and 14 wins, so his teammates look to him as a leader and a pitcher, too. The 3-0 victory over the Braves left Colorado tied with Arizona atop the National League Wild Card standings.
“What he went through is way more important than baseball. But he loves the game. That's why he's back,” third baseman Nolan Arenado said. “To go through that and now he's here to help us with a playoff run, it's a big deal.”
Bettis, who grew up in Lubbock, Texas, and was drafted in the second round out of Texas Tech in 2010, missed all of 2012 with a shoulder injury but returned and was able to make his big-league debut against the Braves the following August.
After going back and forth between the majors and the minors in 2014 and 2015, Bettis had his first full season in 2016, going 14-8 with a 4.79 ERA over 32 starts and 186 innings.
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