He might be baseball’s most confounding player, at once a marvel and a miscreant. Bartolo Colon flunked a drug test last summer and served a 50-game suspension. Now he says he is pitching better than he ever has.
Colon is the 40-year-old ace of the Oakland Athletics, the only All-Star on the team leading the American League West. Few players are older or seemingly in worse shape than Colon, who is 5 feet 11 inches and every bit of his listed weight of 267 pounds.
And yet, after a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on Monday, Colon was 12-3 with a 2.69 earned run average, pitching with enough confidence and precision to be the league leader in fewest walks per nine innings.
... Who knew what to make of Colon last August, when he was suspended after testing positive for testosterone? He was 10-9 with a 3.43 E.R.A. when he was caught, after already pushing the system’s boundaries with the Yankees in 2011.
Colon, whose career was sputtering because of injuries, had never told the Yankees that he was treated by a doctor who used Colon’s fat and bone marrow stem cells and injected them back into his elbow and shoulder. The doctor had used human growth hormone in similar procedures, but said he did not do so with Colon.
It sounded shady enough, and the positive test, plus Colon’s subsequent link to the Biogenesis investigation, seemed to confirm that his renaissance was a mirage, too good to be true. Surely his cheating explained his success, and Colon, without the drugs, would decline.
How do we know he's without drugs?
The A’s thought otherwise, as they often do, and brought him back for one year and $3 million, more than he had made in 2012.