For Chad Bettis, simply taking the mound this spring could be considered a victory. The 27-year-old who led the Rockies in wins in 2016 threw his first live game pitches on Sunday after battling testicular cancer in the offseason. Bettis struck out two and allowed one run on one hit, a home run, in two innings pitched, but the righthander says he felt good in his first game action.

“It was a good first step,” Bettis said postgame. “I think I felt good; I felt connected. And for me that was what I wanted to feel.”

Bettis, who had a career high 14 wins in 2016, was also Colorado’s most durable starter; he also led the team in starts and innings pitched. Bettis was declared cancer free on Feb. 22 and already has his focus 100 percent on improving his performance in 2017.

“There’s been some mechanical things that I changed up a little bit,” Bettis said, “kind of getting back to what we did last year, but at the same time a little bit of what I want to do now, too. Be a bit more powerful, feel like I’m connected.”

Bettis’ new manager, Bud Black, was very pleased with the results he saw on the mound and incredibly happy for his new workhorse starter. Black did not coach Bettis in 2016, but did face him several times between 2013 and 2015 as manager of the Padres. The moment of Bettis’ return was not lost on the new Rockies skipper.

“Wasn’t that great to see Chad?” Black told reporters on the field postgame. “I saw a guy that was, you know, excited to pitch today.”

Not only was Black excited for Bettis personally, he also was pleased with his performance on the mound.

“He was pumped to pitch. He made pitches. I thought his stuff was crisp. The one home run was just a missed location on a fastball, but I thought he threw the ball well,” Black said.

That Bettis is throwing the ball at all so soon after a cancer diagnosis is a major blessing. That he’s throwing the ball well is reason for exuberance.