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Rafael Betancourt will have Tommy John surgery

Aug 30, 2013, 10:15 AM EDT

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Rafael Betancourt initially indicated that he planned to try rest and rehab after being diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow, but now the 39-year-old Rockies reliever has changed his mind.

Betancourt explained to a Venezuelan newspaper that he’ll undergo Tommy John surgery because “they told me there was little chance of recovery with current treatment” and “it would be sad to come to the end of my career this way, after all I’ve been through.”

Even if his recovery from surgery goes well Betancourt will likely miss all of next season and at his age he may never come back to pitch in the big leagues. And the injury means the Rockies will decline his $4.25 million option for 2014, so it’s doubly bad timing for the late-blooming reliever who turned into a very good closer after not making his big-league debut until age 28.

  1. sdelmonte - Aug 30, 2013 at 10:20 AM

    So I am curious how many older pitchers choose to retire instead of undergoing this surgery. From what I can tell, a fully functional UCL is something we could live without. I can see people choosing to just leave it be and move with life.

    Then again, I suspect that an unfixed UCL will be a source of pain from time to time even without trying to throw a fastball, and maybe it’s not a bad thing to let someone else pay for the surgery. Though if he’s a free agent, are the Rockies obligated to pay?

  2. baccards - Aug 30, 2013 at 11:25 AM

    Another TJ surgery to not only prolong a career but, perhaps, to come back with improved performance. I would like some insights from others how this procedure is different than taking drugs to accomplish the same results.

  3. foreverchipper10 - Aug 30, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    With the way Rex Brothers has filled in for him this year you had to figure they were going to decline that option anyway.

    Best wishes to a speedy recovery and hopefully he can latch on with someone in 2015 to finish his career on his own terms.

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