Rafael Betancourt suffers potentially career-ending torn UCL
Veteran closer Rafael Betancourt of the Colorado Rockies was bombed by the Philadelphia Phillies in a save opportunity on Thursday night, and he was promptly place on the disabled list the next day. He underwent an MRI shortly thereafter which revealed a complete tear of his UCL that is nearly certain to require Tommy John surgery.
The 38-year-old righty will first see how his elbow responds to platelet rich plasma (PRP) treatment before being reevaluated. If the PRP treatment does not work (which there is a good chance it will not), Betancourt very well may call it quits on his career.
"They left it up to me whether to have surgery or not. I will see if this (the PRP treatment) helps and allows me to throw again. If not..." said Betancourt. The implication of the "if not..." is that he would retire before electing for Tommy John surgery.
Set to turn 39 during the first month of the 2014 MLB season, Betancourt's best case scenario with Tommy John surgery would be a return to Major League action for his age-40 season in 2015. Rehab from Tommy John surgery generally takes 12-13 months, and given his current age, it would be a lot of hard work with very little payoff for Betancourt.
Betancourt's current contract contains a $4.25 million mutual option for 2014 that will not be picked up, considering he won't be pitching at all that season.
Betancourt was a late bloomer at the professional level, making his MLB debut at the age of 28, but he has enjoyed some solid seasons as a reliever over the past decade - he has posted an ERA under 3.00 in six of his 11 MLB seasons. He earned the closing job for the Rockies last year, racking up 31 saves while posting a 2.81 ERA. He was enjoying a nice campaign this year when healthy, posting a 2.93 ERA and converting 16-of-17 save opportunities before imploding over his final two appearances, in which he blew two saves and saw his ERA balloon up to 4.08.
Betancourt is certainly no Hall of Fame talent, but if this is the end of the road for him, he will be wrapping up a solid professional career.