Bartolo Colon still going strong, 20 years after debut

Wednesday at Citi Field, Bartolo Colon takes the mound opposite the team he played for from 2014 to 2016, the New York Mets. The start will come 7,306 days after his major league debut, and it will launch Colon’s 20th season pitching in the majors.

The new Atlanta Braves starter outlasted Turner Field (1997-2016), the old home ballpark of the Braves.

Terry Collins, Colon’s former manager with the Mets, is an important figure in Colon’s early story, when the hurler was on the Cleveland Indians. Colon’s first career start was April 4, 1997, against Collins’ Los Angeles Angels. Colon’s first complete game (July 28, 1997) and first shutout (April 4, 1998) also came against Collins’ Angels.

Back in the day

Manny Ramirez hit sixth for the Indians in Colon’s debut. At the time, Ramirez had 83 home runs in the majors. He finished his career with 555.

Julio Franco hit third in that debut, at age 38 years, 224 days. Franco’s final appearance in a major league game was Sept. 17, 2007 -- more than 10 years later -- at age 49 years, 25 days old.

What’s Franco’s other connection to Colon? The two of them and Willie Mays are the only players to hit a home run at age 42 or older for the Mets.

Colon debuted in April 1997. Among other active players, none made a debut between Colon's and June 24, 1998 (Adrian Beltre). No other active pitcher debuted until May 11, 2000 (Jason Grilli). No other active starter debuted until April 8, 2001 (CC Sabathia).

Colon has allowed 379 home runs to 267 batters, including Alex Rodriguez, Frank Thomas, Mo Vaughn, Will Clark, Albert Belle, Matt Stairs, Jim Edmonds, Jason Giambi, Ken Griffey Jr. and Paul Konerko. Colon has also allowed home runs to Anthony Rizzo, David Dahl, Christian Yelich, Nolan Arenado, Manny Machado, Giancarlo Stanton and Bryce Harper.

Over the course of his career, Colon has struck out 869 batters for a total of 2,365 strikeouts. Edmonds was the first to strike out against Colon in the majors, and Odubel Herrera is the most recent strikeout victim.

Don’t forget the hitting

Last season, Colon became the oldest player (42 years, 349 days) to hit his first career major league home run, according to Elias Sports Bureau research.

Colon drew a walk Aug. 16. Entering that game, he had the most plate appearances (280) of any player without a walk in major league history, Elias research shows.