Bartolo Colon: Former Cy Young Winner Must Learn to Pitch
Bartolo Colon’s fastball used to match his size. There was never a question that both were big.
Shoulder and arm injuries following his Cy Young campaign of 2005 have left fans to recognize him only for his girth.
His fastball, once comparable to an electric Roger Clemens or Nolan Ryan heater, now looks like Greg Maddux was the offering pitcher.
Does the loss of 10 miles-per-hour equal death to a power pitcher’s career?
In fact, it opens the possibility that a guy like Colon could end up being remembered as someone who could pitch, not just throw.
Bartolo Colon could resurrect his once promising career by recreating himself as a crafty pitcher who is able to battle through six innings for every out.
Accomplishing that kind of drastic turn around would make people forget about him as just a thrower who could hit 98 when runners hit scoring position.
Will Colon ever win another Cy Young, or even make an opening day start?
If he learns what it takes to pitch effectively, change speeds, and hit his spots, he could settle into the back of the Red Sox rotation this spring.
Becoming a completely new pitcher could prove to be a bigger task then battling the heart of a Yankee lineup in September.
The change, though difficult, isn’t out of the question.
Many other athletes have been able to remake themselves in order to continue having success in their respective sport.
Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Walton became pass-first centers in the NBA.
Curt Schilling and the afformentioned Clemens added split-fingered fastballs.
Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Mickey Mantle stopped roaming the outfield and picked up first-base mitts.
These players, among the finest in their sport's histories, made the changes in order to be effective as they got older, and further catapulted themselves into the annals of the history books.
Though Colon will never reach the level of any of these players, he could find himself pitching for another half decade in a time when low-end starters command 10 million a year if they can make 30 mediocre starts.
Effectively changing from a fireballer to a real pitcher is much easier said then done.
With Colon at a crossroads in his career, and without an eye-popping fastball, he has to make it happen if he plans to don a big-league uniform again.
Bartolo Colon will need to go into spring training with an open mind, as well as open ears, to anyone who might be able to help him in his quest.
Whether that means mixing up grips of pitches to generate more movement, throwing change-ups and curveballs in any count of the intersquad games, watching tapes of Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, or getting extra side work with pitching coach John Farrell, Colon’s mission is difficult, but not impossible.
The 11-year vet will face the baseball world this spring the same size he always has been, only this time around the pitcher will have a much different look.
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