Rafael Betancourt injury: Elbow tear means career likely finished

Dustin Bradford

An MRI has revealed a full UCL tear in the Rockies reliever's right elbow. Given his age and the recovery time involved, it may mean the end of a long, successful career.

Colorado Rockies right-hander Rafael Betancourt got worst-case scenario news from team doctors Monday. MRI results revealed that Betancourt has a full tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow, which will likely be a career-ending injury if surgery cannot be avoided, reports Troy Renck of the Denver Post.

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Betancourt, 38, will try every non-surgical option available to him -- starting with a platelet-rich plasma injection -- but if those do not work, he may just decide to hang up the towel rather than go through the arduous Tommy John recovery process:

"They left it up to me whether to have surgery or not. I will see if this helps and allows me to throw again. If not..."

The veteran right-hander first felt discomfort in his elbow last Wednesday. He tried to pitch through the pain -- with not-great results -- but it finally became too much to handle in his following outing on Thursday. The Rockies pulled him after just four batters.

The rehab process for a UCL tear is typically a little over 12 months, though some players are never able to get back to the mound. The Rockies hold a $4.25 million mutual option on Betancourt for the 2014 season, which they'll likely decline in light of the injury.

Betancourt has had a long and successful career spanning 11 seasons. He owns a lifetime 3.19 earned-run average, 74 saves and better than a strikeout per frame in nearly 650 innings. All of his MLB time has come with just two clubs: the Indians and Rockies.

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