Colon puts focus on location more than results

In debut, Braves hurler effective in 2 innings of work

Colon puts focus on location more than results

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As he prepares for his 20th Major League season, Bartolo Colon certainly isn't going to allow himself to be bothered by the results he garners during exhibition games. But at 43 years old, the ageless wonder can certainly take pride in the fact that he is still physically capable of doing what he has always done best.

Colon didn't necessarily have pinpoint command as he provided two innings for the Braves as they claimed a 7-4 win over the Blue Jays during a mutual Grapefruit League season opener on Saturday afternoon at ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex. But the beloved hurler still proved effective, while more importantly providing indication he still soundly understands the art of pitching.

"My primary focus is location," Colon said through an interpreter. "I'm just trying to get my command and placement where I want them to be. That didn't really feel like it happened today. But the most important thing is I feel good."

Colon surrendered three hits and one run while totaling 36 pitches (20 strikes) over two innings. He faced the minimum in the first inning, and then minimized damage after allowing consecutive doubles to begin the second inning.

"I thought he was good," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "He was just missing, maybe a little bit. He was fine."

 After encountering a three-ball count against both of the first two batters he faced, Colon ended the scoreless first inning by getting Darrell Ceciliani to ground into a double play. Brandon Phillips secured Ceciliani's grounder and provided a no-look flip to Dansby Swanson, who fired to first to complete the inning-ending double play.

Phillips' backpedaling flip

Rowdy Tellez opened the top of the second by bouncing a double over the left-center-field wall and Anthony Alford followed with a double down the left-field line to give the Blue Jays a 1-0 lead. Colon responded by retiring each of the next three batters he faced. He closed his outing by getting Jon Berti to look at a called third strike.

"I felt really good," Colon said. "I'm ready for the fight."

The Braves signed Colon to a one-year, $12.5 million contract in November with the hope he would positively impact some of their younger pitchers and also stabilize their rotation while bridging the gap toward the next wave of starting pitching prospects set to reach Atlanta.

"I feel like I've been treated really well since I've been here," Colon said. "It's going great. I'm very happy."

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.