The value of knowing your role

We’ll see if Rafael Betancourt is the eighth-inning answer for the Rockies. But at least he knows the question, so to speak.

Betancourt, acquired from the Indians on Thursday for Minor League pitcher Connor Graham, joined the Rockies on Friday for the big series with the Giants. Beyond some TV footage and an Interleague series past, Rockies manager Jim Tracy knows little of Betancourt. But Tracy knows Betancourt knows what he needs to know to fill a primary setup man in place of Manuel Corpas, who underwent surgery to remove a bone chip from his right elbow.

“He knows what he’s doing,” Tracy said. “He’s going to make you beat him with the bat. This guy has never been a guy that creates opportunity for the other team by walking people. He’s a strike-thrower, throws very hard, and has all the things that are necessary.

“Being a strike-thrower, for me that’s the most important thing when you get down to the last six outs of the game.”

Betancourt, 34, who broke in with the Indians in 2003 and didn’t pitch for anyone else, sounded shocked after learning of the trade on Thursday. The blank stare was gone Friday. He was accepted within the expanding Venezuelan corner of the ballclub. He knew veteran catcher Yorvit Torrealba and fellow relievers Juan Rincon and Franklin Morales already. It turns out young outfielder Carlos Gonzalez and freshly called-up pitcher Jhoulys Chacin grew up within a bout a 10-minute radius of where Betancourt grew up.

And a look at the standings, with the Rockies a game ahead of the Giants in the National League Wild Card race and facing them in a three-game series starting Friday night, made Betancourt feel even more at home.

“It’s a weird feeling, the first time this has happened to me, but I’m just excited to be here,” he said. “All these years I’ve been watching trades that are made. it’s happened to me now. I always wondered how it feels to get traded to a team in the pennant race. It’s vey special.”

– The Rockies designated righty releiver Ryan Speier for assignment. Speier, who is out of Minor League options, was activated from the disabled list earlier this week but had not pitched. Speier said it was simply that a more experienced reliever was available.

The Rockies are hoping Speier clears waivers and can be assigned to Triple-A Colorado Springs.

– Tracy said Corpas’ surgery went well enough that the team will wait two weeks to see how the elbow heals, then hopefully proceed with rehab.

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