Comeback complete: Rafael Betancourt makes the Rockies

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Coming back from Tommy John elbow surgery at age 40 is a tall order, but Rafael Betancourt was up to the task and the Rockies announced that the veteran reliever will be on the Opening Day roster.

Betancourt was the Rockies’ closer when his elbow gave out in 2013, but didn’t appear in the majors at all last season and got knocked around in limited action at Triple-A.

However, he posted a 1.04 ERA in nine appearances this spring while showing good velocity and will rejoin the bullpen in a setup role for one of the few pitchers in baseball older than him, 42-year-old closer LaTroy Hawkins.

It’s tough to know what to expect from Betancourt considering he may have declined sharply at his age even without the elbow surgery, but for a decade he was one of the best, most underrated relievers in baseball with a 3.19 ERA and 684 strikeouts in 646 innings.

Oakland Athletics reverse course: will continue to pay minor leaguers

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher has reversed course and will continue to pay minor leaguers. Fisher tells Slusser, “I concluded I made a mistake.” He said he is also setting up an assistance fund for furloughed employees.

The A’s decided in late May to stop paying paying minor leaguers as of June 1, which was the earliest date on which any club could do so after an MLB-wide agreement to pay minor leaguers through May 31 expired. In the event, the A’s were the only team to stop paying the $400/week stipends to players before the end of June. Some teams, notable the Royals and Twins, promised to keep the payments up through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended. The Washington Nationals decided to lop off $100 of the stipends last week but, after a day’s worth of blowback from the media and fans, reversed course themselves.