TUCSON, Ariz. – While there has been speculation – and a whole lot of hope – to have the two injured pitchers up and running by the middle of camp and ready for Opening Day, there is now a set plan for both Bartolo Colon and Jose Contreras.
“I’m very, very, very pleasantly surprised,” pitching coach Don Cooper said. “Now I would have bet that [Contreras] would have been ahead of schedule, but I would not have bet that he would have been ready. Who the hell has heard of anyone being back from a blown Achilles in seven months? I know how hard he works, so I knew he would be ahead, but he’s well ahead.
“And from the reports I was getting on Colon early from when we first acquired him, the first day I saw him do his throwing program I thought he was throwing the ball OK, throwing the ball better than what I thought he would be. He’s right along with [Contreras], and they seem to be on the same path, the same speed.”
The two will finish off their throwing programs Friday morning at the facility in Glendale, take two days off, and then take the mound to throw sideline sessions on Monday.
“Just fastballs, changeups, to build some arm strength,” Cooper said.
If there are no setbacks, then they will throw sidelines on March 4 and again on the seventh. Cooper will then give them March 8 off, and bring them back the following day to face their first live hitting in a batting practice session.
“It’s the same stuff we were doing with the guys that were here before and healthy, and ready to go,” Cooper said of the process.
But then again, a lot of those other “guys” don’t have the resume of Colon and Contreras.
“We’re looking to leave [camp] with the guys that we feel can win ballgames, and they have a track record, they have an edge,” Cooper said. “Hell, one is a Cy Young winner [Colon] and the other is a World Series and playoff hero [Contreras]. If they’re throwing well they’re going to be in there [for Opening Day]. If not, we have some other guys to turn to.”
Contreras has been recovering from a ruptured left Achilles suffered last August, and had an original expected return date of a year. Colon had bone chips removed from his elbow this offseason, with the club holding out hope to have him up and running by mid-camp.