Despite the harsh assessment of ESPN baseball analyst Dave Campbell, who said Bartolo Colon was overweight and needed to “push” himself “away from the dinner table,” Angel Manager Mike Scioscia insisted Tuesday that the right-hander’s struggles this season were not related to his weight or conditioning.
“If it was an issue, it would have been addressed, and it hasn’t been an issue,” Scioscia said of Colon, who signed a four-year, $51-million deal to be the team’s ace but is 5-7 with a 6.17 earned-run average.
“Could Bart lose five or six pounds? Sure. But he’s not overweight to the point where it affects his performance. His weight is not drastically out of line with what he’s pitched at and been successful with. You’re talking a handful of pounds. Not 20 or 30 pounds.”
Colon, who went 15-13 with a 3.87 ERA for the Chicago White Sox last season and a combined 20-8 with a 2.93 ERA for Cleveland and Montreal in 2002, is listed at 5-foot-11, 250 pounds, but he has pitched between 255 and 260 pounds in recent years.
Campbell, noting the struggles of Colon and Baltimore’s Sidney Ponson, the 6-1, 260-pound right-hander whose record dropped to 3-11 with a loss Tuesday, said on an ESPN Sunday night radio broadcast: “It doesn’t seem politically correct to tell somebody they’re fat, but Bartolo Colon is fat, and so is Sidney Ponson.
“They both have a lot of money, and they need to push themselves away from the dinner table. I mean, after all these excuses about mechanics and all this -- well, they have tried to fix their mechanics. Try pushing your butt away from the table.”
Colon, a native of the Dominican Republic, won’t let the criticism affect him.
“I learned from Manny Ramirez not to get caught up in what is said publicly, whether it’s good or bad,” Colon said through an interpreter, referring to his former Indian teammate. “I try to stay even-keeled with everything.”
Colon acknowledged that his huge contract and poor results made him an easy target.
“Where I’m from, the big mango trees, the ones with the really ripe mangos, are the ones we threw rocks at,” Colon said. “They’re more ripe than the green ones.”
Scioscia said Colon’s struggles stemmed more from a late-May left ankle injury that forced the pitcher to shorten his stride and alter his mechanics. Colon, who has lost some velocity on his fastball, said that the ankle “still isn’t 100%,” but Scioscia has seen improvement in recent starts.
“We saw a little shorter stride a couple of starts ago, but I think we’re past that,” Scioscia said. “There are some things he’s working on cleaning up.... He works his tail off, doing the things he needs to do.”
Colon, according to Scioscia, reported to spring training about 10 pounds overweight and has lost five or six pounds since. His weight hasn’t fluctuated much from the time he gave up one earned run in 14 innings of his first two starts, wins over Seattle and Texas, from the time his struggles began in late April, so why should it be a factor now?
“I don’t think it’s an issue at all,” Angel pitcher Jarrod Washburn said. “Bart is a big guy. I don’t think he’s fat. If you look at him, he has a lot of muscle. He’s a thick guy.”
Ramon Ortiz repeated his request to be traded after being demoted to the bullpen Sunday, and several teams, including the Mets and Orioles, are interested in the right-hander. Though General Manager Bill Stoneman will field offers, he does not appear to be actively shopping Ortiz.
“Ramon has a place on this club -- there’s a role for him -- and if he gets back to the rotation, that role will be expanded,” Scioscia said. “Pitching depth is always important. If Bill finds something that will give us a piece we don’t have, then I’m sure we’ll consider it, but to give Ramon away just to trade him? No. We won’t do that.”