Chris Heston, Nick Tepesch, Nick Turley and Adam Wilk are among a forgettable list of pitchers the Twins have called on this season in hopes of getting something, anything, in a start from the back end of the rotation.
Years from now, this summer will be remembered by Twins fans as the one in which guys like Heston, Tepesch, Turley and Wilk couldn’t throw a strike, got hit extremely hard when they did and gave their team little chance to win. All, however, likely will be referred to as “that guy” or “what’s his name?”
There will be one name that no one will have trouble recalling. Supersized veteran Bartolo Colon is scheduled to make his first start as a Twin on Tuesday night against the New York Yankees at Target Field.
The 44-year-old righthander will be pitching for his 10th big-league team. Colon’s career began in 1997 with the Cleveland Indians and has since included stops with Montreal (yes, the franchise that moved to Washington in 2005), the Chicago White Sox, Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels, Boston, the White Sox (again), the New York Yankees, Oakland, the New York Mets and most recently Atlanta.
Anytime the Yankees come to town the Twins are able to move a few extra tickets and that already figured to be the case for the upcoming Monday through Wednesday series based on the justified fascination surrounding 6-foot-7 Yankees rookie slugger Aaron Judge.
But Colon’s start against one of his former teams figures to make Tuesday’s game an event on what the Twins should term “Big Sexy” night in honor of Colon’s nickname. (Colon applied for a trademark for the “Big Sexy” name in May 2016, according to the New York Post.)
The Twins can’t be blamed if they take every marketing opportunity possible to sell the fact Colon is wearing their size 4XL, or something like that, uniform with what we’re going to guess will be the No. 40 on back.
Signed by the Twins on July 7 after being jettisoned by the Braves, Colon made his first start as a member of the organization for the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings last Thursday. The plan was for Colon to go five innings or 75 pitches against Lehigh Valley.
Colon was lifted after he threw 76 pitches (50 for strikes), giving up four runs, four hits, two walks with five strikeouts in 3.2 innings. He also surrendered a home run in a 6-1 loss to the IronPigs.
The feeling was that Colon’s struggles might cause the Twins to back up his debut with the team and potentially never give him a big-league start. But after having veteran starter Ervin Santana make his own sales pitch to his buddy Colon for why he should sign with Minnesota, the Twins are going through with the plan.
Colon, who went 15-8 with a 3.43 ERA in making the NL All-Star team last season with the Mets, reportedly pointed to a late flight from the Dominican Republic, combined with more than an hour drive from his New Jersey home to the ballpark and a rain delay of 1 hour, 41 minutes as contributing factors for his off night last week.
Before we buy into that explanation keep in mind that Colon was cut loose from his one-year, $12.5 million contract with the Braves because of a 2-8 record and 8.14 ERA in 13 starts.
The Twins are taking very little risk in giving Colon what one has to believe is a final shot to continue pitching in the big leagues. Minnesota is only on the hook for paying him a prorated major league minimum after he cleared waivers following Atlanta’s decision to designate him for assignment.
The cynic in me says there is little chance this is going to work. Like all athletes who insist on not calling it quits, Colon likely has hit a wall and is finished. That’s probably the reality of the situation but what fun is reality? The fan in me says that no matter what happens this is going to be fun.
This will be remembered as the season in which the new Twins’ brass of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine decided they had nothing to lose by holding open auditions for pitchers with a pulse.
With the majority of those pitchers, they were forgotten the moment they left the mound. The same won’t be the case when it comes to the 5-foot-11, 285-pound (or something like that) guy known as the “Big Sexy.”