SAN FRANCISCO -- Rockies right-handed reliever Manuel Corpas is experiencing a pain-free and strong arm this season, for the first time as a professional.
Even in his best days, as closer on the 2007 team that went to the World Series, Corpas spent the time not pitching trying to hide how bad he felt.
"I didn't want to say anything because we were in the playoffs and going to the World Series," Corpas said. "I was happy, so why would I say anything? Every time I pitched, it would swell. I was taking Advil, Tylenol, everything."
It wasn't new. After he signed with the Rockies out of Panama in 1999, the Rockies trying to convince him to have Tommy John surgery -- and him refusing -- was an annual event. He didn't want to delay getting to the Majors.
Corpas finally underwent the surgery in 2009. It wasn't until last year that he re-established himself as a Major Leaguer, going 0-2 with a 5.01 ERA in 48 appearances. This year he is 1-2, 4.00 in 24 appearances with the Rockies and has done his best pitching recently -- six straight scoreless outings covering five innings.
"Now my arm is finally good -- no pain -- and I'm working hard every day," said Corpas, 30. "Last year, it felt OK but it wasn't really strong. I had the command but my arm wasn't 100 percent. Now I think it's 120 percent. I don't throw really hard -- 91, 92 mph -- but it's much better."
Corpas rejoined the Rockies under a Minor League contract, began the year at Triple-A Colorado Springs and has been sent down twice, in a couple of instances just because of roster situations. But his work of late has demonstrated he may be a keeper. Manager Walt Weiss likes Corpas' versatility. Nine of his last 17 appearances have been two innings or longer, but his current run of success has consisted entirely of one or fewer innings in tight, late situations.
"He's got a lot of big, high-pressure outs and performed in a lot of high-pressure innings during the course of his career," Weiss said. "We felt that slow heartbeat has meshed with some of our youth. All those intangible things he brings, along with his performance."
Corpas hopes to return next season in any role.
"I'm just glad when they give me the opportunity, so it's no big deal," Corpas said. "I don't worry about trying to take somebody's job. I want to help where the manager wants me."
Rockies figuring out where Pacheco fits
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Rockies' Jordan Pacheco made his sixth appearance and fourth start of the season at catcher Wednesday as he tries to establish his future role.
Pacheco, 27, led Major League rookies with a .309 batting average last year in regular time at first base and third base, but this year the return to health of first baseman Todd Helton and the emergence of rookie third baseman Nolan Arenado left him with limited playing time. The Rockies sent him to Triple-A Colorado Springs for three weeks in late July and early August to work on catching.
From his return to the Majors through his pinch-hit RBI single in Tuesday night's 9-8 victory over the Giants, Pacheco hit .381 (8-for-21) with four doubles and three RBIs. The surge brought his season average going into Wednesday to .244
"I don't think anything has changed, although the game has slowed down a little bit," Pacheco said. "But really there's not too much different. Just a different outcome."
One option for the Rockies is to expand Pacheco's catching opportunities by not bringing in another backup. This year, they went with Yorvit Torrealba to mentor regular catcher Wilin Rosario, who is a work in progress defensively.
"The way the club was set up this year, it's been tough on Jordan, especially coming off the season he had last year," manager Walt Weiss said. "I completely understand that. It's been difficult to get him consistent time.
"But we like him behind the plate. We like the fact he can go to first. He hasn't played third this year. But there's some versatility we like."
Pacheco is careful not to state a preference for his role, mainly because he doesn't want to limit himself.
"I don't want to say, 'I can't contribute at this position,'" Pacheco said. "I don't know where the best spot is or what position. Pinch-hitting, catching, playing another position, I want to be able to do it all."
Rockies move Bettis to relief role for now
SAN FRANCISCO -- Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis showed a lively fastball in eight starts. But with the Rockies wanting to evaluate veteran starter Roy Oswalt, Bettis will finish the year in the bullpen.
Bettis, 24, reached 96 mph on his fastball in his last start and could potentially provide another tick or two in velocity in shorter stints. The Rockies actually considered Bettis for their late bullpen before last season, but he missed the year with a right shoulder injury that didn't require surgery.
A reliever, a starter or both during his career at Texas Tech before the Rockies made him a second-round pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, Bettis has expressed a preference for starting.
"I think you have to make the determination whether a guy is maybe more of a sprinter versus a guy who can go through a lineup three times in a row," manager Walt Weiss said. "Some of that comes down to mechanics, some of it comes down to mentality and some of it comes down to stuff.
"You put that all together and you make that determination. But with some guys it's not that easy and it's a tough call. You can make a case, certainly in Chad's case, you can make a case either way."
Weiss said the Rockies hope to make a decision in postseason meetings so Bettis will have a target.
One issue is need. This season has established Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa, Tyler Chatwood and Juan Nicasio as four-fifths of next year's rotation, barring trades or big-time veteran signings -- which the Rockies rarely make. They typically don't enter Spring Training with enough depth to afford to change a young, hard thrower's role.
Bettis entered in the sixth inning of Wednesday's 4-3 loss to the Giants and threw a perfect inning with one strikeout. His fastball hit 97 mph twice.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.