04/01/2004 9:30 PM ET
Notes: Colon the No. 1 man
Right-hander happy to get ball for Opening Day
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
|Bartolo Colon is 2-1 with a 3.42 ERA in three career Opening Day starting assignments. (Matt York/AP)
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Bartolo Colon isn't the most excitable guy, but he sounded truly touched about winning the honor of getting the ball for Tuesday's Opening Day game against the Seattle Mariners.
"I'm very grateful to the whole team," Colon said through an interpreter. "From the front office down to (manager) Mike (Scioscia), to be able to take the ball on Day 1 of the season is an honor. But regardless, from 1 to 5, I feel like we're all No. 1s."
That opinion was shared by Scioscia, who didn't give a tangible reason for selecting Colon as his top guy, choosing to mention the overall strength of the five-man rotation -- Colon, Jarrod Washburn, Kelvim Escobar, Ramon Ortiz and John Lackey -- instead.
"It could have been the other guys, too," Scioscia said. "But as we get that ship pushed away from the dock, we're going with this rotation."
Colon has been given the ball for Opening Day three times in his career -- all for the Cleveland Indians from 2000-2002. He's 2-1 with a 3.42 ERA in those situations.
The Angels -- and the Angel Stadium field -- are familiar with his work on Opening Day. Colon blanked the team with a dominant complete-game 6-0 effort to kick off the year in the Angels' eventually historic championship season of 2002.
This year, Scioscia will hand him the ball in Seattle on Tuesday with the opportunity to make some more Angels history.
From a statistical standpoint, Colon hasn't been the sharpest pitcher in the Cactus League. After going six innings and giving up four runs -- three earned -- in the Angels' 9-6 exhibition loss to Milwaukee on Thursday, he had a 1-2 record and a 5.16 ERA, not exactly ace material.
But the things the Angels look for in the spring -- arm speed and how the ball comes out of a pitcher's hand -- have the team excited about Colon's prospects for the regular season.
"We know his stuff," Scioscia said. "We've seen him up close and know his stuff will be there."
Molina improving: Catcher Bengie Molina, who left Wednesday's exhibition win over the Colorado Rockies after the third inning because of a sore left hamstring, might see some action Sunday at Angel Stadium and will likely be in the Opening Day lineup Tuesday in Seattle.
Molina, who has had a history of hamstring problems, said he was told by team trainer Ned Bergert that the pain he felt while rounding first base on a flyout Wednesday was probably just scar tissue "trying to come back to normal."
"He said if it was a pull, I wouldn't be able to walk the next day," Molina said. "I'm able to walk today, so I'm fine. ... If I had to play today, I would. So that's a good thing."
Molina said he wasn't sure if he'd be fully healed in time for Tuesday's opener against the Mariners at Safeco Field but that it wasn't a concern.
"It might not be 100 percent, but it'll be good to play and be there in the lineup," Molina said.
He also said that although he missed 15 straight games this spring because of tightness in the area, he's had enough time to get on the same page with the starters.
"I know what they have, what they can throw and what pitches they have," Molina said. "We're always talking about pitching and talking about baseball."
Donnelly out of hospital: Scioscia was happy to report that reliever Brendan Donnelly was released from Scottsdale Memorial Hospital on Wednesday and that he showed up in the Angels clubhouse and was "in better spirits."
Donnelly has had three separate visits to the hospital stemming from the March 9 incident in which he was hit in the nose by a batted ball during batting practice, fracturing the nose in 20 places.
Donnelly has gone back to the hospital twice since then -- once for surgery to cauterize blood vessels in the nose because of persistent nosebleeds, and earlier this week to pack the nose with gauze because the nosebleeds had returned.
The Angels on Thursday placed him on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26, meaning he'll be eligible to return April 10.
Some reports have indicated that Donnelly could be out until June, but Scioscia wouldn't put a timetable on it other than to say the team is being extra careful with Donnelly because he needs to rest and not do anything strenuous.
"We're not going to have any feedback until doctors can evaluate what this procedure did," Scioscia said.
Scioscia said he was confident that the Angels' bullpen could deal with the loss of Donnelly, even if he is out for two months.
"We'd love him on the mound today because he makes our bullpen better," Scioscia said. "Our bullpen is not as strong in the long run without Brendan. But we hope that we can absorb his role for a period of time with the great arms we have down there."
Mizuo on hold: Scioscia said Thursday that the Angels' newest acquisition, Japanese lefty reliever Yoshitaka Mizuo, is not ready to join the club for the Freeway Series games and will stay back in Arizona to get his command together.
Mizuo, a 35-year-old veteran of the Japanese professional league, was signed by the Angels earlier in the week and has a good chance to make the club as its only left-hander in the bullpen.
The Angels will have Mizuo throw a bullpen session at their minor-league complex in Mesa, Ariz., on Friday and will try to get him in a Triple-A game there over the weekend. After the team receives word that Mizuo's visa has cleared, the Angels will have him join the Triple-A team in Salt Lake to start the season. Mizuo was assigned to minor-league camp Thursday.
"He's in fantastic shape and hopefully his arm can get to where it needs to be," Scioscia said. "He's not ready to do some of the things you'd need to see yet. He needs to get into a game and get the feel of a game."
Halo handbook: Scioscia said the blister on reliever Francisco Rodriguez's right hand that forced him out of a game Monday afternoon had healed to the point where Rodriguez would see action over the weekend in the Freeway Series. ... The Angels closed out their home schedule for Spring Training with a record attendance figure of 106,351, up from the previous high of 96,114 last year. ... The Angels on Thursday put right-hander on the DL retroactive to March 26 and announced that they will take four players -- right-hander Jason Middlebrook, catcher Jeff Mathis and infielders Casey Kotchman and Brian Specht -- to Southern California for the Freeway Series in addition to the 32 players remaining in camp.
Next up: The Angels head west on I-10 and up to Chavez Ravine for the first game of the exhibition Freeway Series, a 7:10 p.m. PT Friday night game in Dodger Stadium. Lefty Washburn will take the hill for the Angels against Dodgers right-hander Jeff Weaver.
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.