Now in new role, Dellin Betances ready to make the most of his second chance
"Honestly, I was surprised when I got the call. I was watching the (NBA Playoffs) and I had no idea, but I was happy about it," Betances admitted when he arrived at Yankee Stadium Thursday. "But I'm excited to be here, and I'm here to help in any role they need me; when they call my name, I'll be ready."
Brett Marshall threw 108 pitches in his Major League debut Wednesday night, and with Adam Warren's status in limbo after he threw four innings on Monday, manager Joe Girardi said that the team needed someone who could give them a little bit of length if needed over the next couple days - thus the decision to option Marshall to Triple-A and bring back Betances.
"He's probably the most built up of anyone, and we could use a little distance," Girardi said. "He's had some good outings lately, and the hope is there that he can simplify things and be a power arm (for us)."
For Betances, who started the final game of the 2011 season for the Yankees, it's a promotion that some believed he might never see again. He had what he called a "rough" 2012, a season that saw him struggle with control, get re-assigned from Triple-A to Double-A, and finish the year on the disabled list before heading to the Arizona Fall League, and if he never made it back, no one likely would have wondered why.
But, in a season that's already seen him deal with the change of moving to the bullpen, Betances got his second chance, and said he himself never doubted he would.
"I always have faith in myself and knew that at some point I'd get the chance to be back here," he said. "I'm ready for whatever comes, and I'm just happy to be back here and see these guys."
That road may have started in earnest when, after being a starter his entire career, Betances was moved out of the Triple-A rotation and into the bullpen in early May. The righty said he was surprised when Yankees Minor League pitching coordinator Gil Patterson told him that he was being moved - especially because that talk came shortly after Betances had thrown five scoreless innings - but he was willing to do whatever it took to return to "The Show."
"(Patterson told me) it's coming from up top, they want you to go to the bullpen, and the next day they told me officially," Betances said. "I said whatever I need to do to get back to the Majors, I'm all for it; I was starting to feel like I was getting quality starts in, but it's their decision."
Betances made just two relief appearances in Scranton, but allowed just one run in 4.1 innings in those appearances and, perhaps most importantly, walked just one batter against four strikeouts after walking 16 in 24 innings as a starter.
"Mechanically, I've worked real hard on trying to repeat my delivery, and I feel like I'm getting there," he said. "I thought that my last 5 or 6 appearances were very good, so I'm confident and I feel like I'm going in the right direction."
As Girardi alluded to in talking about Betances, the biggest adjustment is simply in how a reliever warms up, as he has much less time to prepare and get all of his pitches working. The righty himself, however, said he hasn't felt that yet, and pointed to the circumstances surrounding his last appearance on Tuesday as proof.
"A couple days ago in Toledo, our starter (Chris Bootcheck) got in trouble and I had to get it going pretty quickly, and it was alright," he said. "I probably threw about 15 or 20 pitches and I felt I was ready to go. (Bootcheck) ended up finishing the inning, but I was ready if they needed me."
And, another added benefit for Betances is that he feels his repertoire has been a little more lively since the switch.
"I think (I'm throwing harder); the velocity is good, it's just more consistency. As a starter, you try to go slowly, but in the bullpen, you just have to go after it right away," he said. "You come out in attack mode and maybe that's the kind of pitcher I need to be, as opposed to working my way up slowly."
The move has already paid dividends in the form of the call-up, and Betances plans to make the most of his second opportunity.
"At first it was hard; I've been a starter since I was signed, but you kind of understand the situation. They were saying that there are going to be more opportunities out of the bullpen, so I took it in stride," he said. "Right now, I'm a bullpen guy until they tell me different, and I'm here to do whatever they need me to do."