Deja Vu, All Over Again—Colon Drydocked For Synthetic Testosterone

Fifty games out for Tortilla Fats . . .

That’ll be a fifty game siddown-and-shaddap against Oakland Athletics pitcher Bartolo Colon.

Tortilla Fats got bagged for synthetic testosterone, the same actual or alleged performance-enhancing substance for which Melky Cabrera of the San Francisco Giants got nailed last week. Except that nobody yet suspects Colon’s buds tried hoisting a phony Website hawking a phony product their man could say he bought without knowing what was really inside.

With a 3.43 ERA in 24 starts, Colon was having his best season since his Cy Young Award-winning 2005 with the Anaheim Angels, if you don’t count that he was 1-4 with a 5.80 ERA over one seven-start span. He spent 2006 on the disabled list following rotator cuff surgery; he’d been dogged since then by other shoulder and bone chip issues; he underwent a notable if controversial surgery to inject his own stem cells into his shoulder and made a comeback with the New York Yankees (while fighting a hamstring issue) and, then, the A’s.

There have been many who suspected Colon’s health issues earlier in his career stemmed from his conditioning, or apparent lack thereof. There will now be many suspecting Colon is just the second revelation in an apparent or feared new trend toward synthetic testosterone as the actual or alleged performance-enhancing substance du jour.

Victor Conte—you may remember him being the BALCO mastermind once upon a time; you may not know he’s become of late a powerful advocate of closing real or imagined loopholes in baseball’s drug testing programs—is on record saying that one such loophole lets players using synthetic testosterone via creams, gels, and patches to beat test detection fast. Whatever else has ever been said of Colon, no one has ever accused anything other than his fastball of being particularly fast.

MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE JUNGLE . . .

Cabrera.

SPEAKING OF MELKY. . . it’s beginning to look like Cabrera himself is cooked so far as the Giants are concerned. They yanked an order for about 2,500 Melky Cabrera T-shirts right fast after he got nailed; and, there’s a real chance the Giants may not want him back, for the postseason or any other time. “I’m getting a strong sense that the Giants’ higher-ups are so angry with Cabrera for taking a performance enhancing drug and sticking a knife into their playoff hopes, that the chances they would let him appear in any postseason games this year, if he’s eligible, or re-sign him for 2013 are close to nil,” writes the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Henry Schulman. “Besides their anger with Cabrera, the Giants, from what I’m hearing, understand that they need to be proactive about distancing themselves from the steroids story even if they are being branded unfairly now because two of the four big-leaguers suspended this season wore their uniform.

Santana.

AS I WAS SAYING ABOUT JOHAN SANTANA . . . pitching hurt has only hurt him. From coming back well enough from shoulder surgery—including that stupefying no-hitter—Santana has since battled ankle and back issues and, now, it looks like the Mets, whose season is probably lost already despite a gallant first half, are shutting him down for the rest of 2012. The specific shutdown cause is lower back inflammation, which was probably aggravated by Santana perhaps returning too soon from an ankle sprain, combined with that 134-pitch no-hitter following which he didn’t look anything much like the same pitcher.  The best news: Doctors have told Santana and the Mets he won’t need surgery and can rehabilitate with medication and rest, in plenty of time to be ready for spring training 2013.

Wolf.

THE BOYS WHO CRIED “WOLF!”—Actually, they’re the Milwaukee Brewers, releasing veteran lefty Randy Wolf . . . on his 36th birthday. Not that Wolf is going to make a big stink over it. The one-time Phillie standout himself says he’s not certain what went south on him this season. (Opposing batters hit .312 against him this season.) Releasing Wolf gives the Brewers room to bring back Shaun Marcum from a rehab assignment, and possibly makes Wolf—well-liked and well-respected in the Brewer clubhouse—a target for a contender needing veteran help down the stretch. General manager Doug Melvin said he would be surprised if Wolf doesn’t pitch the rest of 2012.

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