Texas Rangers manager Jeff Banister remembers the first time he saw Bartolo Colon pitch was in Class A ball in 1995.
“He was young and throwing a million it seemed like,” Banister said. “Hitters didn’t really enjoy getting into the batter’s box.”
Colon is no longer throwing a mid-90s fastball, but at age 44 he is still throwing and retiring hitters. He is in the Rangers camp on a minor league contract with a fastball that averaged 87.8 mph last season.
In his spring training debut Thursday, Colon threw 23 of 32 pitches for strikes in two innings against the San Diego Padres. He struck out Chase Headley looking, walked none and yielded a solo homer by Wil Myers and a double by Luis Urias. His fastball worked mostly in the mid-80s range.
“I think Bartolo has really a good small window percentage, putting pitches where he wants to put them,” Banister said. “He was most efficient at small-window targets.”
Colon went a combined 7-14 with a 6.48 ERA in 28 starts last season with Atlanta and Minnesota. One victory was a complete-game on Aug. 4 against the Rangers.
At age 44 years and 72 days, Colon was the oldest pitcher to throw a complete-game victory since Nolan Ryan, who was 45 years, 155 days, on July 4, 1992.
‘Camp Jobless’ fields hope
If a major league team calls with a job offer, Luke Scott intends to be ready.
So do Neil Walker, Nolan Reimold and Travis Snider, also among more than two dozen free agents working out at the IMG Academy.
Scott looks around “Camp Jobless” — as some have dubbed the Major League Baseball Players Association-run spring training workouts for the unemployed — and sees players he thinks should be on big league rosters.
When the 39-year-old, who hasn’t played in the majors since 2013, looks in the mirror, Scott says the guy staring back at him has still got it, too.
“It’s not going to be easy, but I don’t expect things to be easy,” said the .258 hitter over nine seasons with Houston, Baltimore and Tampa Bay.
“I’m thankful for this opportunity to have this camp here. I think it’s a great idea,” he added.
Walker, Reimold and Snider are appreciative of the free agent camp, too.
Former Astros manager Bo Porter has been leading the workouts for two weeks.
Walker is among the latest additions, arriving late Monday. He earned $17.2 million last season, while batting .265 with 14 homers and 49 RBIs in 111 games for the New York Mets and Milwaukee.
Around the horn
Hump day had a more tangible meaning for the Washington Nationals. New manager Dave Martinez had a trio of camels brought to spring training camp Wednesday, four-legged visual aids to help players launch a journey aimed at getting over the franchise’s playoff hump.
... The Seattle Mariners are hopeful Felix Hernandez will miss only one spring training start due to a bruised right forearm sustained when hit by a line drive.
... Texas Wesleyan University has fired its baseball coach after he told a high school player from Colorado that the team doesn’t recruit from the state because players there fail drug tests.