Rockies get Betancourt from Indians
TORONTO – The Cleveland Indians have traded reliever Rafael Betancourt to Colorado for minor league pitcher Connor Graham.
Betancourt, who has spent his entire seven-year career with Cleveland, learned of the deal following Thursday’s 5-4 victory at Toronto.
“I was here for a long time with this team and I have a lot of good friends here, front office, coaches, players,” Betancourt said. “They’ve always been great to me. I can’t say anything bad about it.”
The Rockies are currently nine games behind the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West and wanted to strengthen their bullpen. They entered play Thursday a half game ahead of San Francisco for the NL wild card.
“It’s time for me to leave and go there and keep pitching and keep playing, try to help the team win games,” Betancourt said. “It’s a sad moment for me right now but I have to be a professional and keep playing.
In 29 appearances this season, Betancourt is 1-2 with a 3.52 ERA. The right-hander has given up 25 hits and struck out 32 in 30 2-3 innings. Betancourt has been primarily a set-up man since joining the Indians in 2003.
He had a 1.47 ERA in 68 games when the Indians made the playoffs in 2007.
“These things can happen. You never know when it’s going to happen,” Betancourt said. “I never went through this before, this is the only team I’ve played with in the big leagues. I’ve seen a lot of guys over the years come here and leave and now it’s my turn. I have to go there for the last two and a half months and help that team win.”
The 34-year-old has been the Indians’ most reliable reliever for the past month. The Indians held a $5 million club option for him in 2010 and did not want to pick it up.
“Looking at the market this season and next, we don’t see $5 million as the right price for that kind of role in the bullpen,” Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said.
With the July 31 deadline approaching, the disappointing Indians, who have the AL’s worst record, have been taking calls from contending teams looking to make a deal. Shapiro refused to comment specifically on reports that Cy Young winner Cliff Lee and All-Star catcher Victor Martinez have been drawing interest.
“He’s been a pretty solid pitcher for us for a while,” Lee said of Betancourt. “He’s going to be missed. I’m sure the organization is trying to make a move to make us better.”
Lee said he’s trying not to worry about the trade talk but acknowledged it can be a strain.
“If something’s going to happen you want it to happen sooner rather than later and get it over with, make the adjustment and get there, get to a new team and keep going,” Lee said.
Shapiro would like to add starting pitchers to his roster and said a bigger deal was possible. However, he added that the Indians would approach any possible trade with diligence.
“Our job on any player is to examine the market and decide whether it makes sense to make a deal or not,” he said.
The 6-foot-7 Graham has spent the entire season with Class-A Modesto of the California League. The 24-year-old went 7-4 with a 3.14 ERA in 16 starts. Shapiro said the Indians will send Graham to Double-A Akron.
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