Jeff Schultz

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

Braves should call Colon's DL stint what it is: a mental-health break


George Washington once said, "It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one." Perhaps the Braves should blow up that quote and slap it on a wall.

Faced with the dilemma of what to do with Bartolo Colon but determined not to release him, the Braves fabricated a doozy of an explanation for the 44-year-old starting pitcher having such a horrendous season: He has a strained oblique muscle, they say, so they put him on the disabled list.

The Braves announced Colon got the injury when he went snipe hunting.

Actually, I made that part up. I figure one joke was worth another.

Fortunately, major league baseball does not require a high degree of medical proof to put a player on the DL. It's like everybody's on the honor system. (Hahaha.)

It's not a pretty sight when a front office is forced to scramble and has no answers. General manager John Coppolella and team president John Hart were not prepared for this. They believed signing 40-somethings Colon and R.A. Dickey to one-and-done deals would prove to be a master stroke and give them the bridge the organization needed before bringing up the kids next season.

They thought spending $32 million on Colon, Dickey and Jaime Garcia was a better idea than investing that in a legitimate, top-of-the-rotation pitcher and shied away from dealing any prospects for a proven commodity.

It didn't work. Even if Coppolella and Hart privately acknowledged the possibility that something could go wrong, they never imagined this would go sideways so quickly. Getting through Colon's bobblehead giveaway night Friday night certainly didn't figure to be a problem.

It's worth pointing out that Colon has been asked several times how he feels, including after Monday night's game against Philadelphia, when he allowed eight runs in 3 2/3 innings. At each point he has said that he felt great physically and mentally.

Athletes lie about injuries all the time, but there has been nothing to suggest that was the case here. Colon just said (through an interpreter) that he's been bad, missing spots with his pitches.

That happens when you get old.

Colon is 2-7 with a major league-worst ERA of 7.78 (including 10.03 over his past eight starts). Dickey is 3-4 with a 5.10 ERA. Garcia actually has been good (2-3, 3.18). He's been so good that he'll likely be in demand from other teams before the July 31 trade deadline.

If you're the Braves, why not just admit the mistake with Colon: It didn't work. Send him to the bullpen or cut him loose. Or if the team was going to put him on the disabled list, call it what it is: a mental-health break. Or a stall until the front office figures things out.

They could bring up Kris Medlen (two good starts at Double-A Mississippi) at some point. But the truth is Coppolella and Hart went the aging veteran route because they knew the young pitchers weren't ready. Matt Wisler has been up and down twice. Aaron Blair wasn't good last year and hasn't done much this season to earn a promotion. Sean Newcomb can be really good (2.97 ERA in 11 starts at Triple-A Gwinnett), but he has suffered control problems (as has Blair).

Plans fail all the time in sports. But a plan failing one-third into a 162-game season can make people do strange things. Like making things up.

EARLIER: If Braves don't get it together, veteran dump will begin soon

EARLIER: Colon has become embarrassment, Braves can't let this continue

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About the Author

Jeff Schultz is a general sports columnist and blogger who isn't afraid to share his opinion, which may not necessarily jibe with yours.