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.

Jim Crane thought the heat over sign-stealing would blow over by spring training

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The Astros’ sign-stealing story broke in November, a steady drumbeat of coverage of it lasted through December and into January, when Rob Manfred’s report came out about it. The report was damning and, in its wake, Houston’s manager and general manger were both suspended and then fired.

After that a steady stream of media reports came out which not only made the whole affair seem even worse than Manfred’s report suggested, but which also suggested that, on some level, Major League Baseball had bungled it all and it was even worse than it had first seemed.

Rather than Manfred and the Astros putting this all behind them, the story grew. As it grew, both the Red Sox and Mets fired their managers and, in a few isolated media appearances, Astros’ players seemed ill-prepared for questions on it all. Once spring training began the Astros made even worse public appearances and, for the past week and change, each day has given us a new player or three angrily speaking out about how mad they are at the Astros and how poorly they’ve handled all of this.

Why have they handled it so poorly? As always, look to poor leadership:

Guess not.

In other news, Crane was — and I am not making this up — recently named the Houston Sports Executive of the Year. An award he has totally, totally earned, right?