PAWTUCKET, R.I. - With Tim Wakefield on Boston’s disabled list and Clay Buchholz having pitched himself down to Double-A Portland, the status of Bartolo Colon takes on added importance.
Colon threw four innings of no-hit, scoreless ball during a rehab start Thursday night for the Pawtucket Red Sox in an International League game against the Syracuse Chiefs.
Colon, who’s been on Boston’s disabled list since June17 with a lower-back sprain, walked two, struck out two and threw 23 of 40 pitches for strikes in a game Pawtucket eventually won, 8-3.
He topped out at 90 mph on the McCoy Stadium radar gun, consistently threw in the 88-89 range and allowed only one hard-hit ball.
After Wayne Lydon and Curtis Thigpen were retired on first-inning groundballs to second, Buck Coats lined a 2-1 pitch to right center that Sean Danielson caught on the warning track before crashing into the fence.
“I thought his velocity’s getting back up to where it was,” said PawSox manager Ron Johnson.
“He’s not there yet as compared with where he was when he was with us early in the year. But that’s to be expected because he hasn’t been out there that many times.
“He just looked crisp to me.”
Despite the walks, Colon exhibited command and control especially on his strikeouts. He caught both Kevin Merillo and Russ Adams looking at third-strike fastballs on the inside corner.
“He was throwing pitches on both sides of the plate for strikes,” said catcher George Kottaras.
“He was very confident with his pitches, threw a lot of pitches for strikes and came right after the hitters.
“He was up on the mound and ready to go quickly. He was coming after the hitters and trying to get ahead on every pitch. It’s easy to call a game in that situation.”
Colon faced only one batter over the minimum, one reason being he induced Lydon to ground into a third-inning double play.
Colon pitched only one inning in his previous rehab start, on August 15, because of a stomach ailment. He didn’t show any residual affects, worked quickly, and recorded seven outs on groundballs.
“He had good life on his fastball and was throwing a lot of sinkers up there and getting a lot of groundball outs,” said Kottaras.
In four starts on his current rehab assignment, Colon is 0-1 with a 3.10 ERA, three walks and six strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings.
“He had a feeling for the game,” said Johnson. “He made adjustments which is what we try to teach our young pitchers.”
Johnson said Colon will make another rehab start on August 26 at Lehigh Valley and will increase his pitch count to “five or six innings and 60-65 pitches.”
EXTRA BASES: Since Norfolk beat Toledo, 7-1, Pawtucket’s magic number to clinch a playoff spot was reduced to one over the Mud Hens … Sandy Madera accounted for a chunk of Pawtucket’s offense by doubling home two runs in the first and drilling an RBI single in the third … Jason Lane hit his first homer in a PawSox uniform, a two-run shot in the seventh … Jose Vaquedano (3-1) earned the victory by pitching 2 1/3 innings of three-hit, scoreless relief.
Boston signed free agent catcher David Ross and assigned him to Pawtucket … The 31-year-old Ross most recently played for Cincinnati… In 52 games he hit .231 with three home runs and 13 RBI … He suffered a back injury in April … After driving in only five runs during his first 32 games with Pawtucket, Jeff Corsaletti had plated five in a span of 24 hours …