DENVER -- Sunday rekindled fond memories for longtime Rockies fans when former first baseman Andres Galarraga returned to Coors Field.
Galarraga was reunited with three former teammates -- Walt Weiss, Vinny Castilla and Dante Bichette -- who all serve on the Rockies' coaching staff. Galarraga played for Colorado from 1993-97, posting baseball's best batting average with a .370 mark in '93 and leading the National League with 47 home runs in '97.
"I feel like I'm home," said Galarraga, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Rockies' finale against the Dodgers. "I feel like a visitor, sweating, especially when I see Dante Bichette, hitting coach, Walt Weiss, Vinny Castilla, Eric Young, Jr. -- [I used to] see him shagging in the outfield, now he's on the team hitting."
A five-time All-Star, Galarraga was part of the famed Blake Street Bombers, a foursome of Rockies power hitters in the mid-90s that also included Bichette, Castilla and 1997 NL MVP Larry Walker. The foursome of power hitters took advantage of the thin Denver air and helped the expansion team gain popularity in its early years.
The 529-foot grand slam Galarraga belted in Florida -- one of the most memorable hits of his career -- still stands as the longest home run in Rockies history.
"Probably my best five years in my career was in Colorado," Galarraga said. "I played for the fans, 60,000 people, every day, every game. That's amazing."
Galarraga now lives in West Palm Beach, Fla., and has welcomed the opportunity to spend more time with his three children in his post-baseball life. But he's still healthy, and he will have to restrain himself from jumping into a uniform and heading to the batter's box one last time.
"I'm going to jump if they need me for pinch-hitting or something," he joked.
Six years after historic '07 season, Corpas returns
DENVER -- When Manny Corpas' 4-year-old son asked him where he was playing Sunday morning, the former Rockies closer was more than excited to answer Coors Field. The right-hander returned to the big leagues Sunday in place of closer Rafael Betancourt, who landed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right groin.
Corpas, 30, played five seasons for the Rockies and was a critical piece of the 2007 team that made a World Series run, earning 19 saves and appearing in 78 games. He did not make the team out of Spring Training after signing a Minor League contract this winter, then pitched in 17 games with Triple-A Colorado Springs.
"Right now, I feel very happy to be back with the Rockies again," Corpas said. "I know I started in the Minor Leagues, but that's part of baseball, so I'm happy to be here again with everybody."
Corpas had a 5.19 ERA in 34 2/3 innings in Triple-A. He served as a long reliever for the Sky Sox, usually pitching two or three innings per outing.
Corpas pitched in 48 games last year for the Cubs with a 5.01 ERA and said his slider is starting to round into top form. He said a new grip he first tried in Spring Training has been key to the turnaround.
"It's [not about] my ERA. I worry more about throwing strikes down, low," Corpas said. "Good slider, like 2007 slider ... and I hope to keep doing the same thing here in the big leagues."
With his house and family still in the Denver area, Corpas admitted it was taxing to make the drive to and from Colorado Springs every day. But he relishes the opportunity to settle back into the confines of Coors Field.
"It's hard to go back after you played five years in the big leagues, and you go back to the Minor Leagues," Corpas said. "For me, it's not that easy, but it's fine because my house is here, I got my son, my family here, close to me."
Weiss, Dugger tell Betancourt DL stint is necessary
DENVER -- Rockies closer Rafael Betancourt knew he was hurt, but he was reluctant to admit that he could use some time on the disabled list.
Betancourt said he tried to pitch through the pain of right groin tightness before a meeting with manager Walt Weiss and trainer Keith Dugger on Saturday morning convinced him he needed time off to fully recover from lingering soreness.
"He's not going to be the one to say that I'm hurt or need to go on the DL, so it came down to Doogie and I basically having to say it for him," Weiss said. "But I think he realized it was the right thing to do."
Betancourt, a 38-year-old right-hander, made 22 appearances and recorded 11 saves in 12 chances. In his last appearance Friday, Betancourt gave up two critical runs in the 10th inning of a 7-5 loss to the Dodgers.
Rockies tab Brothers to close in Betancourt's absence
DENVER -- While the Rockies will certainly miss the veteran presence of Rafael Betancourt in their bullpen, they have a promising young arm ready to take over.
Manager Walt Weiss said lefty Rex Brothers, 25, will be the Rockies' closer while Betancourt is on the 15-day disabled list with a right groin strain. Brothers boasts a 0.36 ERA and has not given up a run in his past 23 appearances (21 1/2 innings). His ERA leads the Majors for relievers who have appeared in at least 20 games.
"He's got a really good arm and he's commanding his stuff," Weiss said. "He's really maturing right before our eyes into one of the dominant relief pitchers in this league.
"His slider's been real good, he's got a lot of swings and misses with his slider. When his fastball's the way it is, when he's throwing his slider near the zone or at the bottom of the zone, it's a really tough at-bat for anybody."
Brothers, a first-round pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft out of Lipscomb University (Tenn.), is seen as the Rockies' closer of the future. This is his third season in the big leagues.
Ian McCue is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.