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Handling Colon with care


Handling Colon with care
Though his mind was rewinding through nearly three years and 53 professional outings, it didn't take long for White Sox right-hander Bartolo Colon to zero in on the answer to a simple question: When was the last time he felt as good as he did Tuesday in a 2-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners?

The exact date eluded him, but the other key details were clear.

''It was in Seattle, and I pitched nine innings and I felt really good,'' Colon said through interpreter Lou Hernandez. ''As I think about it, that's the last time I felt this good.''

For the history buffs, the mystery date is July 5, 2006.

Coming off a Cy Young Award 2005 season, and rebounding from a recent two-month stay on the Los Angeles Angels' disabled list because of a sore shoulder, Colon beat the M's that day 4-0, allowing four hits in nine innings. He needed just 92 pitches to earn his first victory since the previous September.

After that game, Angels catcher Mike Napoli made a pronouncement.

''That's the Bartolo that everyone knows,'' Napoli said of the previously 0-4 Colon. ''That's Cy Young right there.''

Well, not so fast. That was the only game Colon won in 2006. Three more starts, and his season was over because of a tear in his rotator cuff.

Since then, Colon has spent time on the DL because of a strained right elbow (2007), a strained muscle on the right side of his back ('07), a lower-back strain ('08) and a strained left oblique ('08). Oh, he also had surgery on his elbow last fall.

Keep in mind, Colon is 35, and though his official height and weight are listed as 5-11 and 245 pounds, the only number worth trusting is the 5-11. He might be a few tubs of ice cream over 245. If you're searching for the 30 pounds that rotation mate Jose Contreras lost in the offseason, Colon looks to have found every one of them.

No matter. Colon (2-1, 4.15 ERA) proved Tuesday that he not only still can pitch, he can dominate. He held the M's to one unearned run and four hits in seven innings. He needed just 95 pitches, 65 of them strikes, to work seven innings, a level he reached only once in his seven outings last season.

Unlike Napoli's gushing pronouncement nearly three years earlier, Sox manager Ozzie Guillen took a more conservative view of Colon's fountain-of-youth outing.

''We have to take it one start to another,'' Guillen said. ''We have to make sure we keep a close eye on him. We have the best trainer [Herm Schneider] in the game. He keeps working with him. Hermie and the coaching staff and training staff are doing a tremendous job to keep those guys out there every five days.''

When Colon was signed to a one-year, $1 million contract in the offseason, it had all the makings of a flyer on a former ace who might be a safety net for the rotation. But the Sox immediately said they would be counting on Colon every five days.

Watching the recent struggles of Gavin Floyd and John Danks, who was battered for five runs and eight hits in four innings of the nightcap, it's becoming increasingly clear how important Colon and Contreras (0-3, 6.75) are to the Sox' rotation.

If these two veterans don't stick, the Sox are in a heap of trouble.

That's why Guillen is taking nothing for granted -- even when Colon makes it look so easy.

''I don't want to overpitch him,'' Guillen said. ''Sometimes you might see him pitch three innings and leave. Some times, like today, I was going to have him pitch six innings and I look up and he has 80-something pitches and I said I'm going to get him up to 100. We keep our eyes on him and see how things work.''

Comment at suntimes.com.

BOXSCORE

GAME 1

Seattle AB R H BI BB SO Avg.

I.Suzuki rf 4 0 0 0 0 1 .308

En.Chavez lf 4 0 1 0 0 0 .325

Griffey Jr. dh 4 0 1 0 0 2 .196

Beltre 3b 4 0 0 0 0 0 .167

Branyan 1b 3 1 0 0 1 1 .292

Jo.Lopez 2b 3 0 0 0 1 1 .227

Ro.Johnson c 3 0 1 1 0 1 .282

a-M.Sweeney ph 1 0 0 0 0 1 .303

F.Gutierrez cf 3 0 1 0 0 1 .211

b-Balentien ph 1 0 0 0 0 0 .333

Y.Betancourt ss 3 0 0 0 0 0 .254

Totals 33 1 4 1 2 8

WHITE SOX AB R H BI BB SO Avg.

Owens lf 3 0 0 0 0 1 .091

Fields 3b 2 1 0 0 1 0 .254

Quentin dh 3 1 1 0 0 0 .250

Dye rf 3 0 0 0 0 0 .300

Konerko 1b 3 0 1 2 0 0 .329

Bri.Anderson cf 3 0 0 0 0 1 .326

AL.Ramirez ss 3 0 0 0 0 0 .185

C.Miller c 3 0 0 0 0 0 .267

Lillibridge 2b 3 0 0 0 0 2 .147

Totals 26 2 2 2 1 4

Seattle 000 000 100--1 4 0

WHITE SOX 000 200 00x--2 2 2

a-struck out for Ro.Johnson in the 9th. b-flied out for F.Gutierrez in the 9th.

E--Fields (3), Lillibridge (1). LOB--Seattle 7, SOX 1. 2B--Griffey Jr. (1), Ro.Johnson (3), Konerko (6). RBI--Ro.Johnson (8), Konerko 2 (17). SB--Beltre (3).

Runners left in scoring position--Seattle 4 (Branyan, Y.Betancourt 2, Balentien); SOX 1 (Bri.Anderson). Runners moved up--Branyan.

Seattle IP H R ER BB SO NP ERA

Jakubauskas L, 1-3 8 2 2 2 1 4 88 5.23

WHITE SOX IP H R ER BB SO NP ERA

Colon W, 2-1 7 4 1 0 1 6 95 4.15

Thornton H, 3 1 0 0 0 0 1 7 2.57

Jenks S, 4-4 1 0 0 0 1 1 18 2.57

Umpires--Home, Mark Carlson; First, D.J. Reyburn; Second, Tim Tschida; Third, Jeff Nelson. T--1:52. A--0 (40,615).

HOW THEY SCORED

WHITE SOX FOURTH Owens grounded out. Fields walked. Quentin singled, Fields to second. Dye popped out. Konerko doubled, Fields scored, Quentin scored. Two runs. White Sox 2, Mariners 0.

Mariners SEVENTH Beltre flied out. Branyan walked. Lopez safe on fielder's choice and Lillibridge's error, Branyan to second. R.Johnson doubled, Branyan scored, Lopez to third. One run. White Sox 2, Mariners 1.

THE RECAP

AT THE PLATE

A combined three runs and eight hits in the doubleheader split wasn't exactly the offensive juggernaut the Sox have come to expect at The Cell. Paul Konerko was the only Sox player to have a hit in each game. Everyone else? There's always the series finale this afternoon.

ON THE MOUND

Bartolo Colon put on a show in Game 1, allowing one run on four hits in seven innings to improve to 2-1. The back end of the bullpen helped out with a dominant inning from Matt Thornton and save No. 4 from Bobby Jenks. Game 2? There's always the series finale this afternoon.

PIVOTAL POINT

Jenks slamming the door with runners at the corners in Game 1 looked to give the Sox momentum they could carry into the nightcap. That momentum went out the window in a hurry when Yuniesky Betancourt hit a three-run homer off John Danks in the second inning of Game 2.

TODAY: VS. Mariners

- 1:05 p.m., Ch. 9, 670-AM

Mariners STARTER: ERIK BEDARD 2-1, 2.08 ERA

'08 vs. Sox : Did not face

Career vs. Sox : 3-2, 3.97

How Sox have fared: A.J. Pierzynski, 4-for-8;

Paul Konerko, 5-for-19; Brian Anderson, 1-for-6

SOX STARTER: Gavin Floyd 2-2, 5.79 ERA

'08 vs. Mariners: 1-1, 7.45

Career vs. Mariners: 1-2, 8.10

How Mariners have fared: Adrian Beltre, 0-for-8; Ichiro Suzuki, 4-for-8; Yuniesky Betancourt, 3-for-7


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 29, 2009

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