Betancourt, Hawpe delay Cactus League debuts

Rockies right-handed reliever Rafael Betancourt was scratched from his scheduled appearance in Thursday’s Cactus League opener against the D-backs at Tucson Electric Park. There isn’t an injury. It’s just that Betancourt lost three weeks of season preparation because of a virus.

Betancourt said he became ill just after Christmas, and didn’t work out until going to Denver for his preseason physical Jan. 19. He dropped about 10 pounds. After the visit to Denver, Betancourt went to Jacobs Field in Cleveland — he was with the Indians his entire Major League career until being traded to the Rockies last July — to continue season preparation.

There is no other physical issue, Betancourt said. But he wants to face hitters at least twice more before entering game competition.

“The first time I faced a hitter was Saturday,” Betancourt said. “I feel like I need a little bit more to be able to pitch in a game.

“I told the pitching coach [Bob Apodaca] I want to go step-by-step. If I pitch the first game, I don’t feel I’m doing that. It’s like I’m rushing everything. This is Spring Training. I have to be real smart.”

The Rockies will have left-handed starter Jorge De La Rosa pitch two innings Thursday. Right-hander Jason Hammel is scheduled to start and throw two innings.

Also, right fielder Brad Hawpe reported that the infection in an ingrown toenail on his left foot has subsided to the point that he can begin baseball activities on Monday. Hawpe said it’s likely he will miss at least the first couple of days of Cactus League games, but he will be fine.

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