Dan's Dugout: Determined Bartolo Tops Martinez for Most Latino Wins • Latino Sports

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Dan’s Dugout: Determined Bartolo Tops Martinez for Most Latino Wins

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They said it couldn’t be done.

But that was before Bartolo Colon threw his weight around.

Pound for pound, he’s the biggest bargain in baseball.

Bartolo Colon has won more games than any Latino pitcher

He’s only about 5’10” tall – maybe 5’11” on tip-toes – but weighs about 300 pounds.

He’s also 45 years old, making him the oldest man in the majors, but still throws strikes and fields his position like a thin person half his age.

Now, he’s the owner of a record he coveted: most victories by a Latin American pitcher.

Colon collected No. 246 earlier this week, working his way through the difficult Seattle lineup for an 11-4 victory.

The win boosted his record to 6-10 but lowered his earned run average to 5.18, exactly where it was during his half-season stay with the Minnesota Twins.

Though far from the status of Juan Marichal or Pedro Martinez, the only Dominican pitchers in the Baseball Hall of Fame, Colon could claim a Cooperstown niche too.

All he has to do is pitch til he’s 50.

By that time, he’s likely to pitch for another half-dozen teams in his continuing travelogue of the major leagues.

With the waiver wire busy, will Bartolo join a contender?

The last active player from the Montreal Expos, Colon has pitched for 11 clubs in 21 seasons. He made four All-Star teams, won a Cy Young trophy, and hit a home run. Yes, one.

Now he wants to catch Marichal again, this time for most innings pitched by a Latino. Colon needs 62 more, which means he’ll need to return in 2019.

He’s on a one-year contract with the Texas Rangers, who are not likely to sign him again. In fact, they’re more likely to move him to a contender this month via the waiver wire.

Colon has already pitched for the New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians, Oakland Athletics, and Atlanta Braves – contenders who could use another starter – but could hook on with the Seattle Mariners, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks, or Colorado Rockies. All of them need help down the stretch, although a rotund righthander who gives up too many hits and homers might not fill the bill.

Colon always takes a mighty cut — in case he connects

His last good season was 2016, when he went 15-8 with a 3.43 earned run average for the New York Mets and made the National League All-Star team for the first and only time.

That strong season inspired the Atlanta Braves to sign him for $12.5 million, a figure almost as inflated as the pitcher’s.

He pitched poorly in spring training, then worse once the season started. In 13 Atlanta appearances, all of them starts, Colon went 2-8 with an 8.14 ERA. That’s no typo, folks. He also yielded 11 home runs in 63 innings.

I could have pitched better than that and I’m 70 years old !!

Going strictly by his reputation, the Minnesota Twins salvaged Colon’s career. After drawing his release from the all-too-patient Braves on July 4, Colon made 15 starts for the Twins. He was almost respectable, posting a 5-6 record and 5.18 ERA. He even completed one of those starts.

Texas came calling, even though their rotation looked loaded. Signed to a minor-league contract, Colon was released, then re-signed several days later. He’s worked 23 times, all but two of them as a starter, and showed that his happy-go-lucky attitude serves as an elixir for younger teammates just getting their feet wet in the major leagues.

Colon needed six tries to top Dennis Martinez, the Nicaragua native who held the record for most wins by a Latino. “It was a long journey,” said Colon through his interpreter, “but it finally came.”

For a kid who once worked in the Dominican coffee fields with his pet donkey, he deserved to celebrate.

Bartolo Colon has been hot and cold for Texas, his latest team.

“I give thanks to my teammates,” he said after the Rangers ripped three home runs to support his historic triumph over the Mariners. “They scored a lot of runs for me.”

He’ll need that support – plus a new contract – to catch Marichal on the Latino innings ledger. The Hall of Famer is ahead of him, 3,507 to 3,445. He can’t close that gap this season, no matter where he might land.

Bartolo Colon is keeping his bags packed.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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