PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - Everything about Bartolo Colon and his recent success defies conventional wisdom.
His age. His weight. His ability to bounce back from injury. His reliance on the fastball.
Forty years old and looking more like a pastry chef than a pitcher at 5-11, 265 pounds, all Colon seems to do is throw strikes and win games.
That's why the Mets committed $20 million for two years to the former Cy Young Award winner and looked past his 50-game suspension for synthetic testosterone in 2012.
In 30 starts last season, Colon was 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA and an American League-high three shutouts for the Oakland A's. The Mets expect him to help anchor their starting rotation and ease the loss of Matt Harvey to Tommy John surgery.
In January, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, addressing a group of high school students, said Colon could even emerge as his team's Opening Day starter.
"I don't worry about my weight," Colon said Saturday while meeting with the media for the first time since his signing in December. "I've always been a big guy. I've always pitched that way, so I'm comfortable with that."
Speaking through an interpreter, Colon said he was "a little surprised" by his success in 2013. "It was a matter of keeping healthy and working hard," he said.
That Colon is still pitching at all is a surprise to some. He sat out all of 2010 with shoulder and elbow issues before going 8-10 for the Yankees in 2011. His suspension for banned substances was handed down in August 2012.
"I was concerned that I might not be able to return [from the 2010 injuries]. But if I did, I thought I would do very well," said Colon, adding that he intends to pitch "until my body can't take it anymore."
Colon relies almost exclusively on pinpoint control of his two- and four-seam fastballs, mixing in an occasional changeup and slider. Pitching to contact, he struck out 117 and walked only 29 in 1901/3 innings last season -- his best since his 21-8 Cy Young campaign in 2005 with the Angels.
The native of Altamira, Dominican Republic, says he's happy to be returning to New York, in part because his wife and son live in Clifton, N.J. He called his one season with the Yankees "a great experience."
"I trusted my agent to find a team that would be a good fit for me," he said. "Other teams made one-year offers, so it was the second year that really sealed the deal with the Mets."
Colon, 189-128 in his 16-year major-league career, has spent all but a half-season in the American League.
He'll be swinging the bat and running the bases with regularity for the first time since he was 10-4 in the second half of the 2002 season with the Montreal Expos.
"I'm going to be working on my batting," he said. "Once I get comfortable with that, I'll be just fine."
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