By John Hickey
Thursday, October 3rd, 2013 at 5:34 pm in 2013 regular season.
I was standing in the A’s clubhouse Thursday when Bartolo Colon tapped me on the right shoulder, put his right index finger to his lips in the universal sign for “don’t make a sound,’’ then said quietly, “Watch this.’’
Colon moved toward a hard-foam black roller players use to stretch out their backs, a light but solid cylinder with a diameter of about 10 inches. It doesn’t weight much, but it is strong, and it’s one of Colon’s favorite pieces of mayhem.
He picked it up, pointed at Brandon Moss, sitting in a chair watching the Cardinals-Pirates game and flashed a grin of delight. He raised the roller above his head, then slammed it into the table in the center of the clubhouse. It sounded like a truck crashed through the wall.
Moss jumped about from here to Jupiter.
After he sat back down again, the cleanup hitter didn’t even look to see who’d done the deed. It could only be Colon.
This story is only important in that it sketches out the level of pressure Colon is feeling heading into Game 1 of the American League Division Series. If it’s not zero, it’s as close to zero as anyone in either clubhouse is likely to get.
Colon is 40, he’s been here before, and he doesn’t mind if anybody knows he considers it one of his jobs to keep the clubhouse loose with loud, explosive sounds.
“He doesn’t say much, but he likes to make noise,’’ manager Bob Melvin said of Colon. “I can’t imagine anyone any more comfortable heading into the game.’’
Colon is starting because he won 18 games. But he’s also starting because his experience means it’s unlikely he’s going to get rattled. And history tells us the first team to get rattled in the playoffs often has a tough time getting its composure back.
Melvin said Colon hasn’t pulled the foam roller trick on him.
“But he does some stuff in the dugout that gets to me,’’ the manager said.
Loud and scary for the unwary?
It sounds like Colon is ready for Game 1.
–Last year Max Scherzer was the Tigers’ starting pitcher in the fourth game of the playoffs against the A’s.
This year he went out and went 20-3 and now he’s pitching in Game 1, ahead of former Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander. A year ago, Verlander pitched Game 1 and Game 5, winning both to oust the A’s.
Just what does that switch mean?
“It just means I’m pitching Game 1,’’ Scherzer said.
It may not mean that he’s pitching in Game 5, if the series gets that far. Detroit manager Jim Leyland made that much clear Thursday afternoon.
“If by chance something doesn’t go right,’’ Leyland said, “your second-day starter could pitch Game 5 on normal rest. “The plan is as we speak today to pitch Max Scherzer in Game 1 and Game 5, if there is a Game 5.
“Justin handled it beautifully. You couldn’t handle it any better.’’