OAKLAND – Robin Ventura is impressed watching A’s right-hander Bartolo Colon mow through opposing lineups at age 40.
Impressed, not surprised.
The Chicago White Sox manager has the unique perspective of having faced Colon during his own playing career and now managing against him. Reflecting on Colon’s shutout of the Sox on Friday night, Ventura said there are concrete reasons the veteran is still baffling hitters in his 16th major league season.
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“You watched last night, he was still throwing 94 at the end of the game if he wanted to,” Ventura said before Saturday’s game against the A’s. “But he doesn’t throw it that way all the time, just when he wants to. He understands the nuances of the game that a lot of pitchers don’t.”
Ventura had limited experience facing Colon in his own 16-year playing career. The two-time All-Star was 2-for-9 against Colon with one homer and one strikeout.
“He used to throw harder, but I think now he probably sinks it a little more than he did then," Ventura said. "He doesn’t have the same delivery. When he first came up, he was more raise-his-leg-and-go. Now he’s got a little slide step. He does stuff with his delivery – he rushes, he starts late. He’s become smarter.”
Colon became the second-oldest pitcher in Oakland history to throw a shutout with Friday’s 3-0 victory. Don Sutton was 40 years, 85 days old when he blanked the White Sox on June 26, 1985. Friday's effort was also important because it gave the A’s relief corps some much-needed rest.
“To not have anybody even take their jacket off (in the bullpen), I can’t remember the last time that’s happened here,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “It was not only a great performance, but the timing of it was just as good.”
--Center fielder Coco Crisp was out of Saturday’s lineup. Just a typical day off, according to Melvin, who tries to rest his veterans in a day game after a night game when he can. Chris Young started in center against Chicago lefty Jose Quintana, and second baseman Jed Lowrie hit leadoff in Crisp’s place.
Left fielder Yoenis Cespedes got a start at DH to give him a bit of rest, with Seth Smith playing left field.
--The reports trickling in from Triple-A Sacramento are strong on shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima, but Melvin said there are no immediate plans to add him to the big league roster.