Bartolo Colon was as loose as ever before his first Braves home start Sunday, a 9-2 win against the Padres in which the 43-year-old pitcher allowed just one hit, one run and one walk in seven innings.
About 2 1/2 hours before the game, Colon slammed a heavy leather roll pillow onto the leather couch in the clubhouse to scare reliever Jose Ramirez, who had his back to Colon as Ramirez was lining up a shot on the pool table a few feet away.
It sounded as loud as a gunshot, and players and reporters were startled, then laughed at Ramirez’s wide-eyed reaction.
“There’s one guy that’s not going to die of a heart attack from stress, I know that,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Colon. “He’s fun. He’s probably experienced everything and more than all the rest of us put together in this clubhouse has. Nothing bothers him. Everything’s the same. It’s refreshing to watch.
“I love being around the guy. He’s just such an engaging, personable guy. He does his job, he’s a pro, he prepares. You don’t stay in the major leagues this long without knowing what you’re doing.”
Colon said through a translator after the game, “I tell everybody, the days I pitch are my happiest days of the week…. I just try to stay relaxed and have a good time out there, especially on the days when it’s my turn to pitch.”
Pitching for his ninth major league team, Colon has again endeared himself to the home fans through a combination of a wry smile, playful personality, improbable athleticism (for someone 5 feet 11 and 285 pounds) and, most of all, highly effective and efficient pitching.
If he wasn’t still a quality pitcher, the rest wouldn’t matter. But he is, and it does. So far, the Braves and their fans have liked all they’ve seen from Big Sexy. And vice-versa.
“I feel like the second I put on this shirt, the fans starting giving us support,” he said. “Even before I put on this shirt, right when I signed with the Braves I started feeling the support of all the fans, and it meant a lot. Now all I want to do is keep doing the best I can and hopefully pitching well, so we can get them to keep coming out here and supporting us the rest of the season.”