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PHOENIX -- For the first time since being suspended 50-games for violating Major League Baseball's performance-enhancing drug policy, Bartolo Colon addressed the media. Colon, 39, hadn't spoken out at all since he was forced to leave his teammates when his suspension was announced on August 22, in the heart of a pennant race.
He didn't take the time to address the testosterone use that got him suspended, how it may have helped him, or why he chose to use a banned substance. Instead he chose to simply apologize.
"The only thing that I can say about last year is that I apologize to everybody, the fans, my teammates, and the front office about what happened last year," Colon said through interpreter Ariel Prieto.
The most interesting statement made by Colon was that he found out about the suspension a month and a half before it was announced. As a result, he said he was very distracted leading up to the news -- but didn't tell anyone. Even A's manager Bob Melvin said he was unaware that he was about to lose one of his starting pitchers at that stage of the season.
"I was not," Melvin said. "I think the procedure is he and his agent maybe, and maybe somebody high up in the organization, but it's not allowed to go any farther than that. That's my understanding."
Colon said he hasn't apologized personally to all of his teammates yet. He won't be rounding them up into a huddle and giving his mea culpa. He did say that he will address players individually if need be.
"I talked to him before hand and I thought that was the proper way to go about it," Melvin said. "He's not a guy that wants to call a team meeting, that's not his personality. It's his personality to deal with guys individually and he's done that to this point."
The veteran pitcher was 10-9 with a 3.43 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 24 starts with the A's in 2002. He was a clubhouse leader, but led by example not with words. His teammates don't seem to be blaming him for getting eliminated in the first round of the American League Division Series against the Detroit Tigers. They ended up winning the American League West in Game 162 without him.
"We know Bartolo and he knows us," starting pitcher Jarrod Parker said upon reporting to camp. "We don't need him to prove or make any statements or anything like that."
Parker's sentiments were echoed by several other A's pitchers. Apology or not, Colon didn't enjoy watching the A's from afar as he served the first 45 games of his 50-game suspension.
"I feel so bad because I couldn't be part of the team for the playoffs and the rest of the season," Colon said through his interpreter.
Colon was signed to a one-year, $3 million contract in the offseason. Last year Oakland paid him $2 million. He essentially got a raise. If he can duplicate his numbers from last season he will be a bargain. He still has five games left on his suspension, so he will basically be missing one start.
Colon pitched in the Dominican Winter League this offseason and general manager Billy Beane told me the reports he got back said he looked just like he did last year. Colon turns 40 on May 24, and seemed positive that he won't have any issues pitching like he did in 2012.
"I don't feel anything different and I'm going to continue to do the same things I've done in my career," he said.
Major League Baseball has a policy in place, and soon Colon will have served his time. He will likely slot into a rotation that includes Brett Anderson, Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone, and either A.J. Griffin or Dan Straily.