Rotator cuff problem could end season for Colon

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The injury-plagued season of Los Angeles Angels right-hander Bartolo Colon took another hit on Friday when last year's AL Cy Young Award winner learned he has a rotator cuff problem that could possibly end his 2006 campaign.

The 33-year-old Colon was examined by team doctor Lewis Yocum at the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic in Los Angeles and underwent a contrast MRI on his shoulder, which revealed a partial thickness tear of the rotator cuff. He will begin an aggressive rehab program, but there is no timetable regarding when he would be able to pitch again.

Colon has made only 10 starts and is 1-5 with a 5.11 ERA. According to general manager Bill Stoneman, surgery was not mentioned during his conversation with Yocum.

"It's tough news," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Understandably, we know what Bart has meant to our club and to our rotation the last couple of years. It certainly explains a lot of the issues he's been having."

The 10-year veteran, who was on the disabled list only once before this season, was on the DL from April 19 to June 17 with inflammation in his right shoulder. He went on it again recently with tendinitis in his triceps.

"I haven't gotten any formal direction from the medical department yet, but we'll talk and they'll have an assessment," Scioscia said. "I know those things take some time. I would assume it's going to be lengthy. And with about seven weeks left in the season, it would seem doubtful that he's going to return. It would be a tall order for him to come back and pitch this season."

Colon was 21-8 with a 3.48 ERA in 33 starts last year, helping the Angels win their second straight AL West title. His lone win this season was a four-hitter in a 4-0 decision at Seattle on July 5, when he recorded his eighth career shutout and 31st complete game without walking a batter.

Colon's last outing was on July 27 at Tampa Bay, when a sore elbow forced him out after just one inning in which he allowed home runs by Rocco Baldelli and Ty Wigginton. He went on the disabled list on July 30.

"He hasn't really been at the level all season that we had hoped he would be," Scioscia said. "In this game you have no other recourse but to be prepared as much as you can for whatever happens. But we did not expect this, obviously. He had no elbow pain and his shoulder was bothering him a little bit, but this is something that needs more attention."

Colon's health problems were the primary reason Stoneman didn't trade any of his starting pitchers for another bat to put in the middle of the Angels' vulnerable lineup.

"Before we got to the deadline and it became evident that Bart was going to miss some starts -- and ultimately was DL'ed -- that impacted our thinking in terms of whether we could really afford to
move a starting pitcher," Stoneman said. "We examined what we are philosophically and what we want to be, and that's a club that takes care of pitching -- No. 1. We've designed ourselves around pitching."

Rookie left-hander Joe Saunders, who is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA, beat Oakland 3-2 on Tuesday night while taking Colon's turn in the rotation.

"Missing a guy of Bart's quality hurts," Stoneman said. "But there's a plus side to it. The plus is that we've got a Joe Saunders, who's already stepped up and won a couple of games in the major leagues."