Bartolo Colon was in his ninth season in the major leagues when Ervin Santana broke into the Angels rotation as a rookie in 2005. It was a year when Colon was 21-8 with 222 2/3 innings, a 3.48 ERA and he would win the American League’s Cy Young Award.
“I learned a lot from him,’’ Santana said. “We are good friends.''
What has been the secret of Bartolo's longevity? "Throw strikes,'' Big Erv said.
Colon, 44, signed a $12.5 million free agent deal with Atlanta for this season. After four outstanding seasons, age seemed to catch up to him in 2017, and he was placed on waivers in late June.
Colon’s release became official on Tuesday and on Friday he signed a minor league contract with the Twins. The plan is to have him pitch next Thursday for Class AAA Rochester, which is the Red Wings’ first game after the International League's All-Star break..
The Twins will come out of the MLB break next Friday. Presuming Santana pitches in the All-Star Game on Tuesday in Miami, the Twins would use Jose Berrios in Houston next Friday, followed by Santana, Adalberto Mejia and Kyle Gibson in some order, and then would need a starter to face the Yankees on Tuesday (July 18) at Target Field.
If Colon’s start for Rochester goes well, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him in the Twins rotation as soon as that game. The Mets were trying to sign Colon, and he didn’t choose the Twins to go through more than a brief audition in Class AAA.
“It’s very exciting for me if Bartolo will be my teammate again,’’ Santana said.
A reporter mentioned there were suggestions that Santana's phone conversation with Colon had some influence on his decision to sign with the Twins.
“Where did you hear that?’’ Santana said.
Told that it came from both manager Paul Molitor and baseball boss Derek Falvey, Santana said: “I’m a good salesman then. Now I know where I’m going to work after I’m done with baseball.’’
Meaning, once Santana is done as a pitcher, he has front office potential.
Colon and Santana both have positive steroids tests on their resume – Bartolo in 2012 and Santana after he signed with the Twins for the 2015 season. Colon's came when it was a 50-game suspension and Santana's when that was increased to 80 games.
Facing suspension and then extra testing, Colon came back with four excellent seasons from 2013 through 2016. Santana has been very good for the Twins over the past two seasons and is headed to his second All-Star Game..
Colon figures to put a big crowd in the stadium for his Class AAA start, but unfortunately for Rochester, it is playing a road game at Lehigh Valley next Thursday.
The Red Wings also lost their best player on Friday night, when the Twins sent Friday’s starter, Felix Jorge, back to Class AA Chattanooga, and called up center fielder Zack Granite.
Granite was batting .360. He was leading the International League's batting race by 47 points going into the weekend. He was on his way to the Twin Cities on Friday.
Molitor referred to Granite as “maybe the best player in that league.’’ He was selected for Wednesday’s Class AAA All-Star Game, but will not be in that game.
Presumably, Granite will be with the Twins through at least next Friday’s game in Houston. After that, it figures to depend on whether Joe Mauer is ready to come off his current 10-day stay on the disabled list.