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ANGELS REPORT

Colon not sure if he can return

August 04, 2007|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

OAKLAND -- With his recovery from elbow irritation progressing at a glacial pace, Bartolo Colon acknowledged Friday that he has never pitched at full strength this season and that he might not play again for the Angels in 2007.

"I know it's not 100%," Colon said through an interpreter of his chances of returning from the disabled list, "but I ask God to give me the strength to finish out the season. . . and continue to pitch in the postseason."

Colon has thrown on flat ground for three days and reported no pain, but there is no timetable for when he might take the next step in his recovery by throwing off a mound.

The right-hander said his second consecutive injury-plagued season has been on the decline since his first start April 21, when he twisted his left ankle while trying to cover first base in the second inning against Seattle.

"When I twisted my ankle, that's when I started feeling more things falling back from there," said Colon, who subsequently experienced triceps tendinitis and the irritation in his right elbow. "I was still feeling good enough to compete and win, but I was compensating one thing with another and eventually that led to this elbow irritation."

The 2005 Cy Young Award winner has been a major disappointment the last two years, and he realizes the Angels might not try to re-sign him after his contract expires this season. He is 6-6 with a 6.72 earned-run average after going 1-5 with a 5.11 ERA during an injury-shortened 2006.

"If I'm given the opportunity to come back here, I want to come back here," Colon said. "But at this point I don't know. It's almost too far to think about that when I'm thinking more about my health.

"But I don't think my career as an Angel is over because I still have the uniform on."

Colon said he would be disappointed if his return took more than another month, and that he'd be willing to pitch again at less than 100%.

"At 90% I'd be more than happy to contribute," he said. "I have to work hard to get back to maybe not where I was before but to be a pitcher that can contribute to win ballgames."

Manager Mike Scioscia said the Angels would welcome Colon back into the rotation even though he went 1-6 with a 9.26 ERA in his last 10 starts before going on the disabled list July 24.

"A healthy Bart throwing the ball like he can, that's a huge boost to any rotation," Scioscia said of Colon, who opened the season 5-0 with a 3.69 ERA in his first six starts. "The first five or six starts when Bart started the season were lights out, so it's still in him if we can get him where he needs to be with the command. The velocity is there. Hopefully, he can do what he's done."

Scioscia rested regulars Garret Anderson and Casey Kotchman and moved Orlando Cabrera to designated hitter Friday night against Oakland to give Cabrera a break from playing in the field. Maicer Izturis started at shortstop and Reggie Willits replaced Anderson, who was used as a pinch-hitter, in left field. Robb Quinlan played first base. . . . Infielder Erick Aybar went three for eight in the first two games of his rehabilitation assignment with triple-A Salt Lake. Aybar, recovering from surgery on his right wrist, could rejoin the Angels next week.

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ben.bolch@latimes.com

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