7/21/2013 1:43 A.M. ET
Brothers returns to closer role eyeing repeat results
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
DENVER -- Rockies left-hander Rex Brothers excelled when pressed into closer duty earlier this season and is being asked to fill the role again.
Rafael Betancourt underwent an emergency appendectomy Friday, which means Brothers returns to the role with the Rockies' closer again on the disabled list. The first time, when Betancourt was dealing with a right groin strain, Brothers earned four saves in five chances, plus a win, and did not give up a run in 14 innings.
It was part of a 30-innings scoreless streak that covered 32 games. He hasn't been quite as dominant in nine games since. He gave up runs in three of them, including one in a 3-1 loss to the Cubs on Friday, when he walked a batter with one out in the ninth and gave up Darwin Barney's RBI double.
Brothers has a tendency to struggle with early hitters, but grow in effectiveness as his inning continues.
"Sometimes a couple pitches get out of whack, but that's just part of the learning curve," Brothers said. "When I was a starter, too, if you didn't get me in the first inning, you didn't get me. I don't know how that's translated into being a reliever. I just need to find out what level I need to be at that day to get the job done."
Brothers' command issues early in innings were worse early in his career. He had a maximum-effort motion, but during a brief demotion to Triple-A Colorado Springs last year, he put his effort level on a scale of 1-10 and figured that on most days, with medium effort, he could throw just as hard with greater command. It sometimes still takes a few pitches to find the level he needs.
"I'm continuing to stay cognizant of things and make adjustments," Brothers said.
Betancourt's son alerts staff of closer's appendicitis
DENVER -- Almost every day is "Bring Your Child to Work Day" for Rockies closer Rafael Betancourt. And it was good that his son, Rafael, was in the Coors Field clubhouse Friday afternoon.
Betancourt was sick Thursday night, but figured he could tough it out and show up for Friday's game against the Cubs. Fortunately for him, his 10-year-old son told on him to the Rockies' medical staff. Not long thereafter, Betancourt underwent an appendectomy, apparently just in time, and the Rockies placed him on the 15-day disabled list.
"Actually his son came in and said, 'Hey, my dad was sick last night,'" Rockies head athletic trainer Keith Dugger said. "Raffy was stubborn, didn't want to come in to see me. But he said he got sick multiple times the night before, but felt better. He was actually working out, so I said, 'Let's take a look at you.'
"We looked at him. Scotty [Gehret, the assistant trainer] looked at him. He was sore on the lower right quadrant. For us, that's a key sign of a possible appendicitis."
Recovery time is not as long as it was before modern surgery. It's possible Betancourt could be ready in two to three weeks. Left-hander Rex Brothers will take over as closer, righty Matt Belisle will be the primary setup man, and righty Mitchell Boggs was called up from Double-A Tulsa. The former Cardinals setup man and closer could quickly find himself in a key role.
It's the second DL trip this season for Betancourt, who missed 25 games in June with a right groin strain. He is 2-3 with 15 saves in 16 opportunities with a 3.16 ERA.
Weiss hopeful Francis' experience translates to 'pen
DENVER -- Rockies manager Walt Weiss said he hopes veteran left-hander Jeff Francis, who struggled in 11 early-season starts before being sent to Triple-A Colorado Springs, can learn the relief role well enough to return and contribute.
The club announced Friday that Francis, after six starts at Colorado Springs, will convert to the bullpen. The 32-year-old has made just one relief appearance in 216 Major League games and two in 84 games in the Minors.
"Jeff brings a lot to the table in experience and wisdom and ability to pitch up here," Weiss said. "He's got a good track record and he's a great pro. If that's a role that he can fill for us, one that he can do successfully, I don't doubt that."
Weiss said the Rockies haven't determined if Francis would be used as a specialist against difficult left-handed hitters or in a multiple-innings role.
Boggs has shaky debut in second chance with Rockies
DENVER -- When right-handed reliever Mitchell Boggs lost his effectiveness early this season with the Cardinals and found himself in the Minors, he had no idea where he'd be when he'd have a chance to redeem himself.
Boggs is getting a second chance with the Rockies, who acquired him in a trade for an international signing bonus slot on July 9. Boggs was pitching at Triple-A Memphis at the time of the trade. The Rockies sent him to Double-A Tulsa, where he gave up one run in four games and struck out three in six innings.
The Rockies called Boggs up Saturday to fill the roster spot of closer Rafael Betancourt, who went on the disabled list after undergoing an appendectomy. Boggs had an uneven, but scoreless, Rockies debut in a 9-3 victory against the Cubs. He gave up a double, hit a batter and walked one to load the bases with two out before inducing Starlin Castro into a forceout.
Boggs hopes to pitch more like he did last year, when he went 4-1 with a 2.21 ERA in a career-high 78 games. He briefly filled the Cardinals' closer role earlier this season, but went 0-3 with two saves in five chances. He had an 11.05 ERA in 18 games before the demotion to Memphis.
"This team is 4 1/2 games out [in the National League West] and that's right in the mix," Boggs said before Saturday's game against the Cubs. "I was part of a team in 2011 that was 10 1/2 games back with five weeks to play, and we were World Series champions at the end of it. I know how quickly a team can go on a run and put themselves right in the mix.
"The question you have to answer is: Are you good enough? When you look at this team, that's an easy question to answer. It's yes, with this lineup and the pitching that's here. We're certainly capable of pitching with anybody."
Boggs blew his first save chance with St. Louis, then gave up seven runs (six earned) two games later, taking the loss in a 13-4 game that was tied when he entered.
"The failure that I had earlier in the season, you look for answers in every direction," Boggs said. "I started worrying about mechanical things that weren't helping me. I was making an adjustment here, making an adjustment with my arm. The adjustment should have been with the mental approach: Be aggressive. Over the last three weeks, that's the direction that I've taken."
Boggs said he began feeling better in Memphis just before the trade. Upon joining the Rockies, he worked with Tulsa pitching coach Darryl Scott on keeping his fingers on top of the ball, instead of to the side, on his sinker.
"Once I got traded, I could stop worrying about what was going to happen and start focusing on getting back to being the pitcher that I'm capable of being, going to Tulsa and having a few outings to prove that," Boggs said. "It's starting to feel like it's there. I've got to continue to work every single day."
Rockies manager Walt Weiss said he didn't want to use Boggs because he threw an inning Friday for Tulsa, but thought he'd let him debut with a big lead.
"I'm glad we got to do that," Weiss said. "We saw a good, heavy, sinking fastball with power and a nice slider."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.