SURPRISE, Ariz. – Rockies reliever Rafael Betancourt was struck in the jaw by a line drive and walked off with a bruise Thursday in Colorado’s 13-2 win over the Kansas City Royals.
The 39-year-old Betancourt was hit in the sixth inning by Brett Eibner’s liner. He was checked by a trainer before leaving the mound, and manager Walt Weiss said Betancourt passed concussion tests.
“We just didn’t see any reason to leave him out there. I think their doctor came over and evaluated him,” Weiss said.
Royals starter Jason Vargas was tagged for nine runs and nine hits, including three home runs, in 1 2/3 innings.
“I don’t think getting hit around like that is fun for anybody, regardless if it’s spring or not,” Vargas said. “It’s great it doesn’t count, but obviously there’s some things that need to be ironed out and worked on.”
Kendrys Morales homered for the Royals.
Betancourt said that was the first time he had been hit in the face.
“I’m lucky the ball hit the tip of my glove before it hit my face,” he said. “I was just trying to react. I saw the ball right in my face and threw my glove up. I’m fine.”
Betancourt made his fourth spring appearance for the Rockies. He was their closer in 2012-13 before needing Tommy John surgery, was out of the majors last season and is a non-roster invite this year.
Nolan Arenado hit two homers and drove in five runs.
“I think you’re seeing who Nolan is,” Weiss said. “He’s getting better and better offensively. It’s always been in there. He’s just getting more experience and we’re seeing the results of that.”
Matt McBride also homered for Colorado.
Rockies starter Jordan Lyles pitched four perfect innings. He has an 0.82 ERA after four starts.
“I have a lot of confidence in my changeup, which I haven’t had in previous years in my career,” he said. “It’s another pitch I can lean on. I’m throwing a lot in the game and none of them are getting hit hard, so that’s a good sign.”
With the Surprise Stadium outfield soggy from a morning rain, manager Ned Yost opted to scratch CF Lorenzo Cain. He was on the disabled list last season and 2012 with groin injuries and Yost did not want to risk playing him on the wet grass.
Royals: LF Alex Gordon, who had right wrist surgery in December, is penciled in to make his Cactus League debut Saturday against the White Sox.
Rockies: Lyles, who threw 32 strikes in 50 pitches, retired eight Royals on grounders.
“I guess every pitcher is going for groundballs,” Lyles said. “It just happened to be that way today. I think the fastball command was pretty good. It might have been a little bit of deception, a lot of guys hit the top of the ball. That just lets you know you’re doing a decent job and guys aren’t seeing it as well.”
Royals: Vargas retired only five of the 15 batters he faced before being pulled with his pitch count at 63.
“I don’t know what to say other than anything I was throwing up there they were hitting,” Vargas said. “Other than making some mistakes and putting them in a position where they felt confident. I got them in a position where they felt good about what they were doing and I wasn’t able to get out of it.”
Rosario expected back
Rockies C-1B Wilin Rosario is anticipated to return to the team Friday after missing three games following the death of his grandfather. Rosario is hitting .381 with two home runs in 21 at-bats.
Rockies: LHP Jorge De La Rosa, who will start the April 10 home opener, will start Friday against the Athletics.
Royals: RHP Chris Young, who signed with the Royals on March 7, will make his first start Friday against the Padres.