Colon may yet be ready to pitch an inning as an All-Star; if not, will closer Grant Balfour be his sub?


Once he’d been named to the American League All-Star team, it seemed clear that Bartolo Colon would not pitch in next Tuesday game in New York.

That’s because he’s scheduled to start for the A’s on Sunday, which under rules precludes him from pitching from more than one inning on Tuesday. Colon could theoretically choose to make himself available to pitch one inning, but he wasn’t expected to do that.

    However, after Sunday’s game, a 10-4 win over Kansas City, the possibility of a Colon appearance was left open.

Speaking through interpreter Ariel Prieto, Colon said he wanted to “wait and see.’’ If Colon was to have a relatively short start, say five innings, on Sunday against Boston in Oakland, then he might be open to the one-inning scenario.

If that’s not the case, A’s manager Bob Melvin would then be hopeful that Colon’s replacement on the team will be another Oakland pitcher, closer Grant Balfour.

“I’m hopeful, but I don’t know that for sure,’’ Melvin said Sunday morning before the final game of the weekend series in Kauffman Stadium. “I know it’s no fun being in Jim Leyland’s shoes.’’

Leyland’s the AL manager based on his Tigers having made it to the World Series last year. And the All-Star manager picks most of the pitchers.

It’s even possible that Leyland picked Colon with the idea that Balfour would be his replacement based on the idea that Colon is averaging about 6.2 innings per start. And should he go that long Sunday, he’d be unlikely to be able to be ready for an inning on Tuesday.

“Jim and I talked and he knew that Bartolo was pitching on Sunday,’’ Melvin said.

A somewhat similar scenario played out in Chicago where Jesse Crain was picked onto the AL staff. Because Crain is on the disabled list, Leyland was able to pick another pitcher, and he chose another White Sox hurler, starter Chris Sale.

While the Colon/Balfour case is a little muddled, it’s crystal clear compared to the path forward for bypassed A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson as the one Colon owns. There are two healthy third basemen on the team in Miguel Cabrera and Manny Machado, and third base is deep position in the league.

Melvin clearly was frustrated that the A’s, whose 51 wins is surpassed in the AL only by Boston, only had one All-Star. Two last place teams, the White Sox and the Blue Jays, each had multiple players picked, two for Chicago and three for Toronto.

“Every team has to have one player,’’ Melvin said. “It was no fun being in Jim Leyland’s shoes.’’

On the other hand, the guy in those shoes was managing a team in the World Series just eight months earlier, so that’s something.

“I wish that I had that job,’’ Melvin said. “But I’m glad that I don’t.’’

That much at least is perfectly understandable.

John Hickey

A longtime baseball writer three years into in his second go-round covering to the Oakland A's beat after a dozen years covering the Seattle Mariners. Covered the A's through the late 1980s and 1990s.