Bartolo Colon was brought in during the offseason to give the Atlanta Braves’ young pitching staff some veteran guidance.
So far this spring, however, the hefty right-hander’s numbers haven’t been all that great.
Going into Saturday’s game against a split Detroit Tigers squad, the 43-year-old Colon was carrying a 7.36 ERA. He didn’t do much to improve that number against the Tigers, giving up six runs, all earned, in 3 2/3 innings as the Tigers beat the Braves 7-5.
That said, Braves manager Brian Snitker isn’t getting concerned about the 5-foot-11, 280-pound veteran starter yet, especially after Colon put in 80 pitches Saturday.
“I told (pitching coach Chuck Hernandez) that he has two more starts, we’ll have him up to 120,” Snitker said. “I think he’s fine. You don’t worry about a guy like that. I’m sure he’s trying to hit location and paint and all that. Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t.”
Most of Detroit’s damage against Colon came in the second inning, when he gave up three one-out singles and a walk. A tricky looper to no man’s land in left was ruled an error, and one more single followed after that. The Tigers scored four runs in the second, ending their half of the inning with a 5-0 lead.
It was Colon’s first decision in five starts this spring.
Colon did have two bright spots: He posted a spring-high four strikeouts, and he had an RBI sacrifice bunt in the second.
“I’m kind of glad it was a bunt, because we haven’t put too much time and effort in putting in BP for the pitchers yet,” Colon said. “We’re kind of getting into that time now, so I’m kind of glad that was the call that came.”
Working out the invitees
The non-roster pitching invitees saw quality time after Colon left Saturday’s game.
Blaine Boyer, who played for Milwaukee last year came on in relief of Colon with two down in the fourth, striking out two and walking one in 1 1/3 innings of work.
Eric O’Flaherty, who played for the Braves from 2009-13 and rejoined the organization last year, struck out two while yielding a hit in the sixth inning.
Ozzie Albies, who almost certainly will make the 25-man roster at some point as a second baseman, connected on a double in his first at-bat in the seventh and scored on Adam Walker’s double. Walker was on the Braves’ extra dress list.
There are nine non-roster invitees currently in camp.
The Braves cut their spring roster to 41 players Friday, moving seven players.
Pitchers Aaron Blair, Akeel Morris and Lucas Sims, as well as infielder Johan Camargo, were optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett. Pitcher Max Fried was optioned to Double-A Mississippi, and pitcher A.J. Minter and infielder Travis Demeritte were assigned to minor league camp.
Saturday’s loss was the fifth straight for the Braves, who are in last place in both the NL East and Grapefruit League exhibition standings. The Braves haven’t won since beating Pittsburgh 7-6 on Monday.
Julio Teheran is scheduled to make his first start since returning from the World Baseball Classic when the Braves host St. Louis at 1:05 p.m. on Sunday. Teheran has thrown just five innings for the Braves so far this spring, having yet to give up a run.