Bartolo Colon looked sharp in the most recent step of his return to action last night, holding the defending Dominican Winter League and Carribean Series champions the Leones del Escogido to a pair of singles in five scoreless innings. Colon struck out six for the Alguiles del Cibao, according to Jose Caceres' recap in the Dominican daily Hoy (link in Spanish), as he generally overwhelmed hitters with a mixture of fastballs and sinkers.
Colon announced he was attempting a comeback to Yoel Adames of ESPN Deportes in late October while pitching for the champion Dominican team in the Pan-American Games qualifier. He said at the time that he "maintains conversations" with the Yankees, Rockies, Cardinals, and Tigers, though other teams approached him following his complete game victory over Nicaragua on October 10. The 37-year-old right-hander was solid in three of his four appearances in Puerto Rico, the only exception being a 2.3-inning, six-run drubbing by Team USA that Colon chalked up to inadequate rest.
Though he hasn't pitched in the majors since 2009, Colon pointed to the offseason following the 2005 season as the focal point of his decline. That winter, Colon pitched for the Dominican Republic in the inaugural World Baseball Classic, fresh off of his 21-win, 222 inning Cy Young campaign. The extra workload, he said, left a lingering soreness in his pitching elbow that marred his ensuing three seasons with the Angels and Red Sox, culminating in surgery to remove bone spurs in 2009.
After signing with the White Sox in January 2009, Colon was effective through 19 starts, pitching to a 4.19 ERA before a knee injury ended his season in July. He said he has devoted the ensuing year to training in the Domincan Republic, and he claims to be throwing pain-free at his customary "full velocity." If Colon continues to pitch well and is willing to sign for around the $1MM that he received from the White Sox in 2009, he could make sense for the teams on his contact list and a number of others looking to add some upside to the back end of their rotation.