White Sox solve Colon mystery
Right-hander expected to pitch rehab start Thursday
CHICAGO -- The White Sox often talk about operating "under the radar" where moves being made to improve the team are concerned.
But for the past week or so, Bartolo Colon had completely dropped off the team's screen.
"Two million dollars for anyone who can find Colon," said White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, drawing a laugh from the assembled media when talking about his hurler after Wednesday's pregame press conference.
There's no need to spend that generous reward offer, as the 5-foot-11, 245-pound right-hander has been located. Colon was scheduled to arrive in Charlotte on Wednesday night, traveling from his native Dominican Republic, and then pitch for the Knights on Thursday against Norfolk. Thursday's start represents the first step of an on-field injury rehab plan explained by general manager Ken Williams on Tuesday evening.
Colon last pitched on June 7 against Cleveland before being placed on the disabled list with left knee inflammation. Colon rehabbed on his own in Arizona, but in order to be a possible candidate to start in a split doubleheader at Comerica Park on July 24, he needed to make Thursday's scheduled trip to the mound.
Having another veteran possibility in the starting rotation could help the White Sox in what promises to be a tough second half within the American League Central. But the White Sox need Colon to be more than simply healthy in order to remain with the organization and be a viable pitching option.
"I'd like to see more breaking balls," Guillen said. "The problem Colon had was [he was] throwing a fastball to everyone. And if you don't locate right, you get in trouble. In the meanwhile, his knee started bothering him, and he couldn't locate well. That's why we put him on the DL, and hopefully [he'll] come back strong.
"When he comes back, the problem is how are we going to use him? That's something we have to decide later."
If for some reason Colon is not ready by the doubleheader in two weeks, Guillen talked about possibly using D.J. Carrasco as a spot starter. The idea of pitching hard-throwing southpaw Aaron Poreda was broached to Guillen, but he didn't think the rookie would be stretched out enough to start.
Ideally, Colon would fill that night's vacancy, keeping the White Sox bullpen somewhat intact. Guillen's biggest worry concerning Colon on Wednesday, though, was finding him before that start came up.
Guillen presented an interesting reason as to why Colon might have gone incommunicado.
"I worry about Colon because Colon was a big-time Michael Jackson fan," Guillen said. "He maybe was in LA at his funeral, because I can't find him. Nobody knows how big of a Michael Jackson fan Colon was. I'm serious. He might be depressed a little bit.
"To talk to Colon, you've got to talk to 20 different people. You got to talk to 30 different cousins, and then to his agent, who talks to his brother, his brother call his wife, his wife say he's with Pedro, Pedro say he's with Juan," said Guillen, having a little fun with the subject. "I guarantee you I'll call [President Barack] Obama, and we'll have a talk before Colon answers the phone. Obama will put me on hold for one second.
"It's just the way he is," Guillen said. "I remember when we signed him. We called the Dominican Republic, and it took three days to get in touch with him."
A 2009 base salary of $1 million was agreed upon for the veteran free agent with a 3-6 record and 4.23 ERA this season, but Colon can make another $2 million in performance bonuses based on innings. Even though Colon is under contract, Guillen didn't seem bothered that nobody really knew his whereabouts.
"He's a grown man," Guillen said. "I only worry about the people in our clubhouse now. It bugged Kenny a bit. We're still paying you. You're still on our payroll. But that don't bother me. I expect him to be (in Charlotte). They are waiting for him."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.