JUPITER, Fla. – Bartolo Colon looked sharp in his second spring start for the Braves on Thursday, and afterward the 43-year-old said he’s not yet committed to pitching for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.
It had been previously reported that Colon would join the powerful Dominican team after the opening round of the WBC, which starts next week with pool play. When asked if he was excited to pitch in the tournament, he implied it’s still undecided whether he will go or stay at spring training and concentrate solely on preparing for the season.
“It’s more of a waiting game for me, just have to see how everything keeps going in spring training,” Colon said through an interpreter. “The primary focus is just on staying healthy. After that, we’ll see what happens.”
In his second spring start for the Braves, Colon was so efficient through three innings of a 9-4 loss to the Cardinals that he finished 10 shy of his prescribed 45-pitch limit. He gave up two runs and two hits including a home run, with no walks or strikeouts in three innings and left with a 3-2 lead
“I felt good, that’s the most important thing,” said Colon, who threw 24 strikes in 35 pitches, after being staked to a 3-0 lead on first-inning homers by Dansby Swanson and minor league outfielder Adam Walker, who hit his second homer in two days. “As far as throwing the ball, I was kind of putting it where I wanted to.”
Braves manager Brian Snitker said Colon had told someone else on the bus to Jupiter that he was going to throw three innings in 35 pitches.
Snitker smiled and said, “He just does what he does. Probably right where he wants to be. He just throws strike after strike after strike. It’s something else.”
Colon retired six of seven batters in the first two innings on two fly outs and four ground outs, with the only blemish in those innings a one-out second-inning solo homer by Matt Adams. He homered on an 0-1 fastball that caught the outside corner, after hitting a pop foul on the previous pitch and seeing the ball land in front of third baseman Adonis Garcia a foot outside the Braves’ dugout.
“He just got a good pitch off me,” Colon said. “He’s always been a good hitter off me, he got a hold of that one.”
Actually, Adams is just 2-for-12 with three strikeouts and no walks in his career against Colon in the regular season, albeit with a 2015 homer among the hits.
The other hit against Colon was a one-out triple by Paul DeJong in the third inning that landed beyond the glove of leaping prospect Ronald Acuna, who might have briefly lost the ball in the sun. Dexter Fowler followed with a sacrifice fly that cut the Braves’ lead to 3-2.
Colon, who signed a one-year, $12.5 million free-agent deal with the Braves, was charged with three hits and one run in two innings of his first start Saturday against Toronto. He has one strikeout and no walks in five innings.
The former Cy Young Award winner said he’s pleased with how things are coming together for him and for the Braves.
“In the short time we’ve been together we’ve gotten along really well,” he said. “I’m just really happy to be a part of this team that we have here right now.”