MLB to investigate Colon procedure

Earlier tonight, Mike reported on the stem cell procedure Bartolo Colon underwent to restore his throwing arm. Now it seems that MLB is questioning the surgery and the doctor who conducted it. Joseph R. Purita, Colon’s surgeon, has used HGH in the past, and MLB wants to make sure he didn’t employ the banned substance in Colon’s surgery.

Serge Kovaleski of The Times reported:

Purita said he flew to the Dominican Republic and performed the procedures for free, doing it at the behest of a medical technology company based in Massachusetts that he has done business with for several years. Purita, who has used human growth hormone in such treatments, said in an interview that that he had not done so in Colon’s case. The use of human growth hormone is banned by baseball. “This is not hocus-pocus,” Purita said in an interview here. “This is the future of sports medicine, in particular. Here it is that I got a guy back playing baseball and throwing pitches at 95 miles an hour.”

Purita said that he has treated at least two dozen professional athletes over the years, mostly baseball and football players, and that he has never given any of them H.G.H. “I just won’t give it to these guys,” Purita said. “I don’t need the stigma and that kind of reputation.”

For the last few years, baseball and other sports, while fighting to limit the use of performance-enhancing drugs, have been faced with a new and murky challenge: players getting sophisticated blood treatments, often from doctors whose practices involve the regular use of H.G.H.

Brian Cashman, the Yankees’ general manager, said Wednesday that he had not known of Colon’s medical treatment when the club signed him. Cashman said Colon’s agent, aware that The New York Times was working on an article about the procedure and Purita’s role, had notified him recently of the procedure. Cashman said he had, in response, informed Major League Baseball. “The Yankees did notify us and we are looking into it,” said Pat Courtney, a spokesman for Major League Baseball.

Major League Baseball has said it has no reason to suspect Colon or his surgeon of any wrong-doing, but they are investigating as a matter of due diligence. I would expect nothing to come of this, and I’m not sure they can do much anyway. Colon was out of organized baseball when he underwent the procedure last year. As long as he complies with the MLB drug policy now, there is no foul here.

Phelps whiffs nine in SWB loss

Kevin Russo cleared waivers and has been sent to Triple-A Scranton, so the Yankees didn’t lose any infield depth by claiming Jess Todd. Both Steve Garrison and Graham Stoneburner are still rehabbing from groin and neck strains, respectively, in Tampa. Just in case you were wondering what those two were up too.

Triple-A Scranton (5-3 loss to Buffalo)
Chris Dickerson, CF: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K – six for his last 20 (.300) with three doubles and a homer
Luis Nunez, SS, Jesus Montero, DH, Justin Maxwell, LF & Brandon Laird, 3B: all 1 for 4 – Nunez scored a run and stole a base … Montero and Maxwell each drove one in and whiffed …  Laird struck out twice
Jorge Vazquez, 1B: 0 for 3, 1 BB, 1 K
Jordan Parraz, RF: 0 for 4, 1 K
Gus Molina, C: 1 for 3, 1 BB, 1 K
Doug Bernier, 2B: 0 for 3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
David Phelps, RHP: 6 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 K, 2-3 GB/FB – 69 of 108 pitches were strikes (63.9%) … 39-11 K/BB in 42.1 IP
Jess Todd, RHP: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1-0 GB/FB – seven of 11 pitches were strikes (63.6%) … he was having a brutal year with the Indian’s Triple-A squad, guess it carried over
Andy Sisco, LHP: 0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 0 K – just four of his 14 pitches were strikes (28.6%)
George Kontos, RHP: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 0-1 GB/FB – 14 of 17 pitches were strikes (82.4%)

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Game 34: Vinny from Jersey

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

The Yankees have seen quite a bit of Vin Mazzaro in his brief big league career. He’s made three career starts against them (with the A’s, of course), only once completing five innings while pitching to a 9.69 ERA with nearly as many walks (ten) as strikeouts (12) in 13 innings. Yankee batters have tagged him for a .379/.486/.690 batting line in 70 plate appearances. I’m sure he’ll have some family in attendance for tonight, but I hope they go home disappointed for the Yankees’ sake. Here’s the lineup, same as yesterday’s…

Derek Jeter, SS
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nick Swisher, RF
Jorge Posada, DH
Russell Martin, C
Brett Gardner, LF

A.J. Burnett, SP

YES will have the game when it begins a little after 7pm ET. Enjoy.

Notes: Busy afternoon today, with news about Gene Monahan, Rafael Soriano, Luis Ayala, and Lance Pendleton.

The secret behind Bartolo Colon’s success: stem cells.

Bartolo Colon‘s resurgence has been the comeback story of the year so far, by a considerable margin too, and this article in De Diario Libre explains the medical procedure that made it possible. Dominican doctors Sergio Guzman, Leonel Liriano, and Hector Rosario approached the right-hander in 2009 about the stem cell treatment for his ailing shoulder, which included damage to the rotator cuff, ligaments, and tendons. It was performed in addition to the more well-known platelet-rich plasma treatment (PRP), and neither procedure took more than 40 minutes or required any kind of surgery (and subsequent recovery time). And here he is, throwing mid-90’s gas.

“We have not invented anything, nor have we done anything new,” said Guzman. “This is being done the world over. We received some training overseas to handle this type of things. Harvard University donated the centrifuges. This is no invention. What we do is take a little bit of bone marrow and we put it into an affected area”. I recommend reading the whole article, very interesting stuff.

Soriano day-to-day after MRI shows inflammation

Rafael Soriano will be out a least a few more days as the Yankees have said his MRI showed some inflammation in his twice-repaired right elbow. Girardi said the results were “pretty good,” but Soriano will not throw until he has a catch tomorrow. The Yankees expect him to miss a couple of days.

With Soriano out, Joba Chamberlain will inherit the 8th Inning™ while David Robertson will continue to play the role of fireman. For some added bullpen depth, the Yankees activated Luis Ayala from the disabled list today and sent Lance Pendleton back to AAA. Ayala, who has appeared in three games for the Yanks, had been out since early April with a strained oblique.

David Robertson’s Top Three Escape Jobs

He's been doing this since college. (AP Photo/Jason Harless)

Last night’s seventh inning escape job was just more of the same for David Robertson, who seems to have made a habit out of wiggling his way out of such jams. “If I’m stepping off, it’s usually because the crowds are loud,” he said after the game. “I need to calm myself down because I don’t want to become erratic.” That’s something that just comes from experience, so he knows the routine by now.

In honor of Robertson’s continued success in the fireman role, let’s take a look at the three greatest escape jobs of his career using WPA. I limited the sample to only games when he entered in the middle of an inning to clean up someone else’s mess. He doesn’t get any credit for wiggling out of his own jams here.

3. August 15th, 2009 (box & video)

In many ways, this was when Fireman David Robertson™ truly emerged. The Yankees were in Seattle, leading the Mariners by two runs thanks to some surprisingly solid work by starter Sergio Mitre (no, really). The Experience started the sixth inning by striking out the corpse of Ken Griffey Jr., but Russell Branyan (single), Jack Hannahan (walk), and Rob Johnson (single) all reached base to end his day. Joe Girardi summoned Robertson to hold the line.

Jack Wilson and Ryan Langerhans were the two batters due up, and although they aren’t exactly the most intimidating duo, inheriting a bases loaded jam in your 60th career appearance isn’t exactly easy. Wilson battled for eight pitches, eventually swinging through a fastball for strike three. Langerhans worked the count full and took a fastball down in the zone for what looked like ball four, but the home plate ump called it strike three and the inning was over. Generous call, yes, but it’s still a strike some 21 months later. Robertson’s WPA for the game was +0.160 (he started the next inning), or +0.140 for the two strikeouts.

2. April 15th, 2011 (box & video)

This one is pretty recent, it happened just a few weeks ago. The Yankees were in Toronto to take on the Blue Jays, but starter A.J. Burnett was having a rough go of it against his old club. He started the sixth inning with the Yanks up by two, but a leadoff single (and a steal) by Aaron Hill followed by a Jose Molina pop-up and a Corey Patterson walk put the Jays in business. Edwin Encarnacion doubled in one run and put runners at second and third with one out, but a Jayson Nix walk loaded to the bases. Exit Burnett, enter Robertson.

The lineup had just turned over, so Jose Bautista was two batters away at the time. It was either get Yunel Escobar and Travis Snider or (figuratively) die trying. Robertson had a similar yet different approach against both batters; he fed Escobar seven straight fastballs before Toronto’s shortstop swung and missed for strike three, then he gave Snider four straight curveballs for another swinging strikeout. That resulted in this gem…

It’s hypnotic, isn’t it? Robertson used one pitch exclusively against each batter to record to the threat-ending strikeouts, stranding Joey Bats in the on-deck circle. He faced just the two batters, but his WPA was a stout +0.254.

Big relief after this one, eh? (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

1. October 9th, 2009 (box & video)

Surely you remember this one. It was Game Two of the 2009 ALDS, and the Yankees and Twins were tied at three in the 11th inning after Alex Rodriguez hit a game-tying, two-run homer off Joe Nathan in the bottom of the ninth. Damaso Marte did some great work in the World Series, but he allowed consecutive singles to Joe Mauer and Jason Kubel to lead off the 11th before Robertson was called in. Mauer should have doubled earlier in the at-bat, but that’s another post for another time.

Instead of coming in and doing the strikeout thing, David needed some help on this one. Michael Cuddyer singled on a hanging curveball to loaded the bases with none out, taking away any margin of error. Noted hacker Delmon Young lined a first pitch curveball right at a perfectly positioned Mark Teixeira for the first out, bringing Carlos Gomez to the plate. He also swung at the first pitch, a fastball in on his hands, grounding it to Tex who got the force play at home. Brendan Harris was all that was left between escape and certain doom, and he lifted a 1-1 fastball into center field for a routine fly out to end the inning and the threat. At +0.341 WPA for the game (+0.461 for the three outs), this was Robertson’s masterpiece, his Mona Lisa.