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Colon makes strong case to stick around

44-year-old fires six strong innings in what was slated to be lone start
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

OAKLAND -- Veteran pitcher Bartolo Colon has made a convincing opening argument that the Rangers need to keep him around.

Exhibit A: He turned in the best outing of any Rangers starter through the first turn of the rotation, although it was the only one not against the world-champion Astros.

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OAKLAND -- Veteran pitcher Bartolo Colon has made a convincing opening argument that the Rangers need to keep him around.

Exhibit A: He turned in the best outing of any Rangers starter through the first turn of the rotation, although it was the only one not against the world-champion Astros.

View Full Game Coverage

Colon was effective Monday night, holding the Athletics to one run in six innings at the Coliseum in a game that ended up 3-1 loss for the Rangers. The only run came on a third-inning home run by Matt Chapman, who jumped on an 0-2 fastball that didn't sink.

Otherwise, Colon was everything the Rangers expected from a 44-year-old whose best fastballs are in the 86-88 mph range. He threw strikes, changed speeds and kept the ball down.

"I felt great, as I always do," Colon said. "I threw strikes, which I needed to do. My expectations were to pitch a good game, and that's what I did."

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Colon threw 89 pitches, 62 of them strikes. He walked just one and struck out four. He allowed seven hits, but the A's were 1-for-6 off him with runners in scoring position. His last pitch was an 87.3-mph fastball that induced an inning-ending double play in the sixth.

Video: TEX@OAK: Colon induces double play to retire the side

He is the only Rangers starter to throw six complete innings through the first five games.

"What's impressive is he moves his fastball around and gets outs," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "He knows how to get the ground ball when he needs to. There's never any panic in any situation. For me, he is just a veteran who knows how to pitch."

What's next is murky, but there is growing sentiment to not let Colon get away, even with Martin Perez getting ready to come off the disabled list.

"We have some decisions to make, we'll leave it at that," Banister said.

Perez is scheduled to pitch Thursday against the A's. That would leave no room in a five-man rotation that already includes left-handers Cole Hamels, Mike Minor and Matt Moore and righty Doug Fister. The Rangers could have Colon stay around as a sixth starter, although that would mean longer time between starts for guys like Hamels who prefer to pitch every fifth day.

Video: TEX@OAK: Banister on Colon's start against the A's

Texas could move Colon to its bullpen, but that is also full, with eight relievers on the roster. Colon would be a long man, and the Rangers already have Jesse Chavez in that role.

The other possibility the Rangers have discussed is putting him on outright waivers with the hope of sending him to Triple-A Round Rock. If the 44-year-old hurler clears waivers, it would be up to him to decide if he will accept assignment or elect free agency.

Colon made it clear in Spring Training he wants to keep pitching and has no immediate intentions of retiring. There were at least a half-dozen scouts from other teams watching Colon pitch against the Athletics.

"He allowed one run in six innings," third baseman Adrian Beltre said. "Who wouldn't want that on your team?"

Tweet from @Rangers: #BigSexy lived up to his name tonight in his #TexasRangers debut! pic.twitter.com/LDEeSqZJfk

If Colon were to accept the assignment, it could be for a predetermined amount of time, allowing him to continue to pitch, create interest from other teams and provide the Rangers with needed starting pitching depth. General manager Jon Daniels said the goal for Texas is to maintain its depth and flexibility.

"It's up to the team," Colon said. "That's all I can say. Mentally and physically, I think I still have a lot to give."

There is irony in Perez being the one who is threatening to push Colon out of the rotation. Perez loves having Colon around, and has taken advantage of every opportunity to soak up as much advice from him as possible.

"It is special for me to have him as a teammate," Perez said. "It is something we have to take advantage of. As much as I can learn from him to make me a better pitcher and a better person, we need to do it."

Video: TEX@OAK: Colon discusses his Rangers debut

Colon, who turns 45 on May 24, is the second-oldest pitcher in Rangers history. Nolan Ryan was 46 when he pitched his last game for the club in 1993. Colon is also the oldest pitcher in the Major Leagues since Jamie Moyer made his final start at the age of 49 with the Phillies in 2012.

To make room for Colon, the Rangers optioned reliever Nick Gardewine to Round Rock. He allowed two runs in three innings over two appearances during the team's opening series against the Astros.

Texas made room on the 40-man roster by placing right-handed reliever Rocky Rodriguez on the 60-day disabled list. He is sidelined with right biceps tendinitis.

The Rangers also announced Monday that first baseman Tommy Joseph has accepted his outright assignment to Double-A Frisco. Texas claimed him on waivers March 19 and designated him for assignment on Opening Day to make room for reliever Kevin Jepsen on the 40-man roster.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, Bartolo Colon