Bartolo receives standing O, plans 2018 return

Bartolo receives standing O, plans 2018 return

MINNEAPOLIS -- After recording the first out of the seventh inning in a strong start against the Tigers in the regular-season finale on Sunday, Bartolo Colon walked off to a standing ovation from the crowd at Target Field while Rod Stewart's "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" blared, a nod to his nickname of "Big Sexy."

Colon tipped his cap to the fans as he finished his season on a high note, allowing one run on three hits and one walk with four strikeouts in a 5-1 win over Detroit. There's a chance it was the final outing of the 44-year-old's career, but he believes there is more in the tank and said as much to his former Indians teammate and Tigers first-base coach Omar Vizquel while embracing before he walked off the field.

"He said, 'I saw you pitch the first time and now I saw you pitch the last time,'" Colon said through an interpreter. "But maybe he was talking about himself not coming back because I'm not going anywhere."

Colon said he plans to keep his promise to his late mother, Adriana, as he told her before she passed away in 2014 that he wants to pitch until he's 45.

"That's the goal," Colon said. "That's what I promised my old lady, and that's what I want to do."

Colon added to the clubhouse leadership and provided a boost to Minnesota's rotation after being signed to a Minor League deal in mid-July, but he scuffled down the stretch, posting a 13.50 ERA over his previous four starts entering Sunday. He finished 5-6 with a 5.18 ERA in 15 starts with the Twins after his rough stint with the Braves.

But Colon pitched well in a potential postseason audition, and Twins manager Paul Molitor was happy to see the crowd's reaction.

"You are always looking for opportunities to have people acknowledged for what they have done," Molitor said. "It worked out where I got him one more out in the seventh and got him off the field. The music came on and he strolled off, hugged Vizquel and more hugs in the dugout."

Colon's potential final MLB out

Colon won't be on the roster for Tuesday's American League Wild Card Game in New York, but there remains a chance he could be added as a fourth starter if the Twins advance to the AL Division Series presented by Doosan. Molitor said he hasn't thought that far ahead yet, and neither has Colon.

AL Wild Card Game: Tuesday, 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on ESPN

"Let us win on Tuesday first," Colon said. "Cleveland, we can talk about later."

If this is it for Colon, he finishes his career with 240 wins to go along with a 4.04 ERA. The former AL Cy Young Award winner is a four-time All-Star and a fan favorite around the Majors. But he said he has no plans to retire and would be open to coming back to Minnesota.

"That's a front-office deal," Colon said. "If they want me back, I'd love to be back."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.