After a second bout with cancer detoured his spring this year, veteran pitcher Chad Bettis has returned to the Rockies to begin light workouts on his road back to baseball.

“How do I feel to be back? It feels great,” Bettis said. “Physically, I feel good, but I think this is way more mentally of a weight off my shoulders to be back with my teammates and brothers.”

Bettis finished his second round of treatment on May 16 after learning that his cancer had spread in March. He initially returned to the team in February after going under the knife in December and believing he was in the clear.

He had been receiving treatment in Arizona up until this point. When the Rockies went down to face the Diamondbacks back in April, he got to hang out with his brothers again.

“I think it was really therapeutic to be down with the team down in Arizona, but maybe more so here, just for the fact that it’s home,” Bettis said. “My family and I are here now and I get to travel with the team and stuff. It’s the process of getting back and getting back to playing ball. I’m a baseball player; I feel like that’s what I need to do, and whatever I can do to help this team, I’m here for.”

What he looks forward to more than anything, he said, is getting back the camaraderie that’s been lacking during his time away from his teammates.

“Just being with all the guys,” he said. “It’s funny, because I say there are times where people don’t know what to say to you, but at the same time, it just takes time for that to wear off. I think being here with the guys is so beneficial for me, just from a mental side. I get to relax, I get to be one of the guys again and hang out.”

Despite the months of chemotherapy that he had to battle through, Bettis believes he’s physically in shape, whereas his endurance could use a little work.

“I feel like the strength is there, but it’s much more the stamina,” Bettis said. “Going through the chemo, I’ve realized what it can do to your lungs and stuff like that. I’ve got to get that back. I found myself a little bit short of breath today at the very end of throwing.

“But then again, I think every time moving forward, even with cardio and stuff, it’s something that I feel like, individually, I need to understand where that mark is. Don’t get crazy and push the envelope, but at the same time, get to that point where I’m able to build that lung capacity back and keep moving forward.”

Despite the big step forward in returning to the team, Bettis said there’s no set timeline for a date of his return. As is to be expected, he needs to test his health a little bit before he can go harder in his workouts and build up that stamina.

“There’s not been [a timeline] yet,” he said. “There’s one that’s being talked about and everybody wants a timeline. Everyone wants to know when that’s going to be. For me, I’ll tell you right now, I want to be back by the All-Star break. I don’t know if that’s realistic. I think it is for me, but that’s me.”

While a return by the All-Star break seems optimistic, Bettis said it’s good to get back to what he knows rather than fighting for his life. Throughout all of the adversity, he never lost sight of his drive to get back on the mound.

“Baseball is secondary,” Bettis said. “I think your perspective changes vastly. I think it doesn’t become about your job anymore, it becomes about your life. My perspective has changed, but also I have grown to appreciate baseball even more so. What’s first is my family, and I think that’s what got me through this.”