LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – When you’ve pitched in the majors for two decades, the first start in spring training, be it good, bad or somewhere between, isn’t going to do much to move your emotional needle.
And so, veteran Bartolo Colon seemed mostly indifferent about results from his two innings of work Saturday in his Braves debut, a 7-4 Braves win against the Blue Jays in a Grapefruit League opener at Champion Stadium.
Colon was charged with three hits and one run in two innings and had one strikeout. The 43-year-old former Cy Young Award winner threw 20 strikes in 36 pitches and retired the last three batters he faced after allowing a run on consecutive doubles to start the second inning.
“I felt good, really good,” Colon said through an interpreter, which he uses for all interviews. “I feel ready for the fight. … My primary focus is location, just trying to have some good command and place my pitches where I want them to be. Unfortunately it didn’t really feel like it happened today, but the most important thing is I feel good overall.”
Colon allowed a ground-ball single through the left side by the second batter he faced, Jake Elmore, before inducing a 4-6-3 double-play grounder from Darrell Ceciliani to end the inning, with recently acquired veteran second baseman Brandon Phillips making a slick flip of the ball to shortstop Dansby Swanson to start the play.
“(Colon) was fine,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Just missing a little bit, but he was good.”
Asked if he was pleased about getting out of the first inning with a double-play grounder, Colon smiled and gave an answer that indicated it was not much more important than, say, the route he took to get to the stadium.
“To me, spring training is more about focusing on your stuff and things that you want to work on, so I’m not really not too concerned with results as far as hits given up or anything like that,” he said. “I’m more just focused on things that I need to work on and making sure I feel good at the end of the day, and I did today.”
After Rowdy Tellez led off the second inning with a double to the center-field warning track, Anthony Alford doubled to the left-field corner to give the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead. Colon retired the next three batters on a fly ball to left, a grounder and a strikeout looking by No. 8 hitter Jon Berti, the last batter he faced in his scheduled two-inning appearance.
Twelve days into his first spring training with the Braves, Colon said he’s comfortable with his new surroundings.
“I feel great,” he said. “I definitely feel like I’m getting along great with the guys. I feel like I’ve been treated very well since I got here, so that’s been great as well. I’m very happy.”
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