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Colon coasts in start for PawSox

Bolsters bid for Major League rotation spot in season-opening win
April 3, 2008
PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- Bartolo Colon wouldn't bite.

Colon delivered a Major League performance Thursday night while pitching for the Pawtucket Red Sox in their International League opener against the Indianapolis Indians. But was it good enough to earn the 2005 American League Cy Young Award winner a promotion to the Boston Red Sox, especially since a myriad of injuries have limited him to a total of only 29 big league appearances over the last two years?

Colon did a verbal tap dance in response to that question.

"I know I'll be pitching again in five days," Colon said through an interpreter, Pawtucket general sales manager Cookie Rojas. "I'm not sure if it will be here or with the big club. It's their decision.

"Whatever management wants me to do, I'll be more than happy to accommodate them. But my arm feels good. I feel healthy."

That wasn't the case in recent years because, among other things, he strained his right Lattsimus Dorsi muscle, irritated his right elbow and partially tore his right rotator cuff.

Colon, who signed a Minor League contract with Boston during the offseason, worked five innings, faced just 16 batters -- one over the minimum -- and earned the victory as Pawtucket blanked Indianapolis, 3-0.

The burly right-hander threw 45 of 74 pitches for strikes and topped out at 96 mph on the McCoy Stadium radar gun.

Colon allowed only one hit, an opposite-field single to right by Adam Boeve in the second inning.

Boeve was erased on a double-play ball to second by Neil Walker.

Colon walked one, struck out five and ended with a flourish by blowing a 95-mph fastball past Kevin Thompson for the last out in the fifth.

"I felt like I was really throwing consistently throughout the whole game," Colon said. "I didn't feel like I had to reach back and throw any harder [in the fifth inning]."

Colon was pleased with his slider, which was a perfect complement to a fastball he was able to spot on the outside corner.

"That [pitch] felt particularly good because it was really cold and I was able to throw it effectively tonight," he said. "But the cold weather has never really affected me because I've pitched in Cleveland where it's cold.

"The main thing for me tonight was making sure I had control of my pitches."

Colon threw as many as three balls to an Indians hitter only three times, once in the first inning and twice in the fifth.

Boeve drew a one-out walk on four pitches in the fifth and stole second base. Walker then worked the count to 3-and-2 before Colon caught him looking at a third strike on the outside corner.

"He made some very good pitches," PawSox pitching coach Rich Sauveur said. "I think the [home-plate] umpire was very consistent tonight. [Colon] saw what the umpire was giving him and he took the advantage.

"The umpire was giving him the corners and he stayed with it. He was staying away from the hitters and then coming in on them. He mixed his pitches -- his fastball, slider, change -- very well. He threw the ball well in Spring Training and he continued here tonight.

"That's why they got him over here."

PawSox manager Ron Johnson was impressed with Colon's game management.

"He set a really nice tempo," Johnson said. "I enjoyed watching his overall demeanor. When you talk about game awareness, I know there weren't a lot of baserunners, but he has a feel that you can see out there.

"It's a good teaching tool for the young guys. He's varying his times to the plate. He's 'picking' to first. He's elevating his pitches. At times when it was very conducive to getting outs, he used his sinker and his changeup.

"It was impressive."

Mike Scandura is a contributor to