Around the MLB: Chewing the fat

Andy Call

Teams often make excuses for overweight pitchers by pointing out that their girth certainly doesn’t seem to slow down their fastball. Rod Beck, the late relief pitcher, once noted, “I’ve never seen a guy go on the (disabled list) with pulled fat.”

It is true that a pitcher can carry extra weight and be successful, at least in the short term. In the long term, however, excess pounds begin taking their toll — on knees, hips, hamstrings, shoulders and, eventually, the arm. Cleveland’s front office recognized that fact in 2002 when it traded Bartolo Colon to Montreal for Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee and Brandon Phillips. Colon was certainly going to be successful in the short term, but free agency was impending. The Indians recognized that a pitcher with his weight and work habits might not be a great long-term investment.

For a while, it didn’t seem to matter. Colon started at least 33 games and averaged 227 innings per season from 2002 through 2005, when he won the Cy Young Award. Eventually, however, he broke down. He made 10 starts in 2006 (1-5, 5.11 ERA) and 17 in 2007 (6-7, 6.68) and will not pitch again this season after being scratched from Wednesday’s scheduled start due to back stiffness.

The Angels will not keep Colon on their playoff roster, probably ending his run in Anaheim. He originally signed a four-year, $51 million contract, the biggest ever given to a pitcher by the club.

Over the past two seasons, Colon has worked a combined 146 innings and been on the disabled list four times due to back and shoulder problems.

The 33-year-old right-hander declined to speak with reporters Wednesday, according to the Los Angeles Times. Of course, Colon hasn’t spoken much to reporters for quite some time. He has always used an interpreter for interviews despite having come to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic in 1993.

By comparison, Indians shortstop Jhonny Peralta, who came to the U.S. in 2000, stopped using an interpreter two years ago. Cleveland pitcher Fausto Carmona, who came to the U.S. in 2002, now needs an interpreter only for more complex questions.

Colon certainly will not be one of the hottest commodities on this winter’s free-agent market.

“Two years ago, he won the Cy Young,” Newsday’s Jon Heyman wrote earlier this summer. “Now he’s one of the worst pitchers in the AL. A good conditioning program could make him $10 million, but Colon — the epitome of fat and happy — will simply let the market pay him for what he did in the past rather than the present.”

The Other Nixons

Indians outfielder Trot Nixon said the legend that he is the son of some type of medical pioneer started in Boston years ago.

“Somebody wrote that, and it just took off,” Nixon said. “Now, I’m very proud of my dad. But he never invented the artificial heart or any of the other things they’ve written about him.”

William Nixon was a football and baseball player at Atlantic Christian College (now Barton College) in North Carolina who went on to attend medical school at Duke and become a surgeon. He and his partners have established a group of eight dialysis centers near Wilmington, N.C. The William P. Nixon Jr. Athletic Annex at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington is named in his honor.

It Smells Like Fresh Garbage, Too

Fans in Chicago love the atmosphere at Wrigley Field, but Reds outfielder Adam Dunn doesn’t see pastoral splendor when he looks at what’s inside the ivy-covered walls.

“That outfield is dangerous,” Dunn told the Chicago Sun-Times. “I’m surprised more people don’t get injured there. It’s worse than playing in a parking lot.”

Concerts were held in the outfield earlier this summer, and it appears the turf has never recovered.

“It looks like they had a monster truck rally,” Dunn said. “It’s terrible. There are potholes. It’s bad. It’s unsafe.”

End of the Line

Center fielder Torii Hunter told the St. Paul Pioneer Press he is losing sleep while considering the possibility he will no longer be with the Twins after this season.

Minnesota’s last home game is today. Hunter was drafted by the Twins in the first round in 1993.

“I’ve been thinking about it every day this week,” Hunter said. “I wake up at 4 or 5 in the morning and stare at the ceiling. Just thinking about these guys in the clubhouse, the people in the front office, the people I see on the streets all the time. There are a lot of people here that mean a lot to me, and this could be the last time I see some of them.”

It’s Good to be a Brewer

How have Milwaukee fans reacted to their team’s return to prominence? The Brewers will break the franchise attendance record this summer, having drawn 2.6 million fans with seven home dates remaining.

The former record, just over 2.8 million, was set in 2001. The Brewers have broken the 2 million mark just six times in franchise history — but four times in the past four years.

Sharp-Dressed Man

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Giants players were amazed that shortstop Omar Vizquel was not one of the eight choices for baseball’s best-dressed player in a recent SI.com Internet poll.

“For Omar to wear some of the things he wears, that no one else dares attempt, speaks volumes,” outfielder Dave Roberts said. “He should be recognized.”

Vizquel, for his part, was willing to live with the snub.

“I don’t think I’m well-dressed,” Vizquel said. “I don’t have style. I’m just one of the wildest dressers.”

Ball Four – I Think

The Giants have been out of it for a long time, as evidenced by Ray Durham forgetting to go to first base after Arizona’s Brandon Webb threw a fourth ball Monday night. Because Durham didn’t move after Webb missed on a 3-2 pitch, home-plate umpire Angel Hernandez assumed his clicker, which had accurately shown a full count, was wrong.

Everyday Jaime

Baltimore left-hander Jamie Walker has made 78 appearances this season. That leads the American League and also breaks the Orioles team record of 76, previously shared by B.J. Ryan (2003 and 2004) and Tippy Martinez (1982).

Kids These Days

Veteran second baseman Jeff Kent summed up his feelings about the Dodgers’ lost season for the Los Angeles Daily News.

“I’m angry, disappointed, perplexed, bitter,” Kent said. “Pretty soon, we’re going to pay the piper, and it’s going to be painful.”

Kent lashed out at the team’s young players after a loss Thursday.

“I am running out of time, and a lot of the kids in here don’t really understand that,” Kent said. “It’s hard to get them to understand that, because they haven’t been there, and there lies some of the frustration.”

Bad News Baez

Danys Baez, who signed a three-year, $19 million contract with the Orioles, may be done for all of the 2008 season. An MRI examination showed a partial tear in his right elbow, according to the Baltimore Sun. A second opinion will help Baez decide whether to opt for rehabilitation or surgery.

Reach Canton Repository sports writer Andy Call at (330) 580-8346 or andy.call@cantonrep.com.