PHOENIX — Bartolo Colon knew he had failed a drug test for about six weeks before he got hit with a 50-game suspension last season. He made several starts for the Oakland Athletics while knowing he probably wouldn’t participate in the pennant race.
“I continued to pitch, but my mind wasn’t good,” he said.
Now that Colon is back in the clubhouse at spring training with the teammates he let down, the 39-year-old right-hander knows he can only earn peace of mind and forgiveness by getting back in top form on the mound.
Colon finally spoke Tuesday about his season-ending suspension for a positive testosterone test. Through a translator, the former Cy Young Award winner expressed regret for his past mistakes and hope for his future.
“The only thing I can say about last year is I apologize to everybody, even the fans, the team, the front office about what happened,” he said.
The A’s organization already has forgiven the veteran starter. Not only did the unlikely AL West champions re-sign Colon, they gave him a raise with a $3 million, one-year contract.
“I feel loved, because Oakland gave me the opportunity to come back and be part of it again,” he said.
Colon still must serve the last five games of his suspension this season, costing him a turn in the rotation.
Colon went 10-9 with a 3.43 ERA in 24 starts last season.
HUGHES SIDELINED: In Tampa, Fla., Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes has upper back stiffness and will be sidelined for a few days.
“There’s always a little bit of concern, but it’s upper back by his shoulder blades, so we’ll see how he is in a couple days,” manager Joe Girardi said Tuesday. “You’re usually more concerned about the lower (back problem) lingering. The good thing is he was ahead of where he’d probably normally be at this time, which helps.”
Hughes was hurt Monday during a defensive drill covering first base.
Closer Mariano Rivera did throw, 36 pitches during his third bullpen session, and is ready to face batters for the first time since May.
Baseball’s career saves leader was hurt while shagging fly balls during batting practice in Kansas City on May and had surgery June 12 to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
CC Sabathia threw 30 pitches in his second mound session and said his control was better. The left-hander had arthroscopic surgery Oct. 25 to remove a bone spur from his left elbow.
DETWILER TO BE ON U.S. TEAM: In Viera, Fla., Washington Nationals pitcher Ross Detwiller has had an exciting past few months.
Detwiler has gotten married, been on a USO Holiday Tour — and now the left-hander will pitch for Team USA in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.
He said Tuesday that it’s “been a pretty good offseason,” adding, “I think I’m peaking a little early here. I don’t think I’m going to be able to top this one.”
The 26-year-old Detwiler will be the second Nationals pitcher to play for Team USA, joining Gio Gonzalez.
Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said the club is “honored” that Team USA wants two of Washington’s starting pitchers. Rizzo says, “We’re flattered about it. I know Ross is really fired up for it.”
HURDLE’S CONTRACT EXTENDED: In Bradenton, Fla., the Pittsburgh Pirates and manager Clint Hurdle officially agreed to a contract extension that runs through at least the end of the 2014 season.
Terms were not disclosed but the deal includes a club option for 2015.
The 55-year-old was in the final season of a three-year deal he signed in December 2010 when he replaced John Russell.
Pittsburgh is 151-173 in two seasons under Hurdle, including a 79-83 mark in 2012, tied for the franchise’s best record in two decades.