Blog Entry

Colon owes resurgence to stem-cell treatment

Posted on: May 11, 2011 8:50 pm
Edited on: May 11, 2011 9:13 pm

By Evan Brunell

Somehow, Bartolo Colon has made himself relevant after missing a full season of baseball and injecting his fastball with life, with an average speed of 91.7 mph arresting a decline that started with the White Sox in 2009.

Despite being knocked around in his last start, Colon now has an impressive 3.86 ERA that is actually higher than it should be, as his 2.79 xFIP indicates. He's made four starts and three relief appearances and has bailed New York out of the Phil Hughes-sized hole the youngster left as he battles his own mysterious velocity problems.

Stem cells may be to thank. As Peter Griffin once said on Family Guy, "why are they not funding this!?"

Colon left baseball in '09 with pain in his right shoulder thanks to a rotator cuff tear among other issues and accepted an invitation in March 2010 from Drs. Sergio Guzman and Lionel Liriano to undergo a stem-cell transplant and later a "booster shot," as writes.

"We did not want to do a trial on a young 23-24 year old because the effectiveness could be questioned due to his age," Guzman said, after their original goal of Pedro Martinez did not come to fruition. "We did it with a veteran and we hope that Felix Sanchez and other Dominican athletes that have suffered injuries will also submit to this treatment so that they can prove what can be done with stem cells."

Both bone marrow and fatty tissue (and there certainly was plenty of the latter for Colon) were taken out of his hip, put through a process, then inserted in the shoulder. He was then injected with a plasma shot, which other big-leaguers have undergone for treatment. Each procedure took no longer than 40 minutes with minimal recovery time, and doctors contend that this process is more economical than Tommy John surgery, which is more expensive and requires a long rehab period.

"We have not invented anything, nor have we done anything new. This is being done the world over", Guzman added. "We received some training overseas to handle this type of things. Harvard University donated the centrifuges. This is no invention. What we do is take a little bit of bone marrow and we put it into an affected area."

Prior to the procedure, the doctors received approval from MLB owners, lawyers and doctors before moving forward. While it's unlikely this surgery will supplant Tommy John surgery, it could be another medical advancement that could keep pitchers on the mound longer. Jake Peavy, pitching Wednesday night in his 2011 debut, is another pitcher who has undergone fairly new surgery.

The article, which was very fawning and pro-Dominican Republic to the point where you had to tune out the obvious bias (example: "... credit that goes to a team of surgeons made in Santiago de los Caballeros with the most advanced knowledge of present day medicine" -- we'll shortly learn that there's plenty of credit to go to a US doctor), made no mention of Dr. Joseph Purina of Florida who says he was part of the team that treated Colon.

“This is not hocus-pocus,” Purita told the New York Times. “This is the future of sports medicine, in particular. Here it is that I got a guy back playing baseball and throwing pitches at 95 miles an hour.”

Liriano says in the article that Purina was the one to provide the information and specialty to make the procedure possible, although Liriano had a major influence in selecting Colon and bringing the whole team of doctors together.

The Yankees were not aware of the procedure until just before the Times story ran, and notified baseball which is looking into it. Purina has previously used human growth hormone, banned by basbeall, in similar treatments but says he did not do so in Colon's case. “I just won’t give it to [professional athletes],” Purita said. “I don’t need the stigma and that kind of reputation.”

Colon brushed off inquiries, saying "I don't know, I don't know," when asked about the procedure. Not much conclusion can be drawn from this as Colon speaks limited English.

Colon's agent, Mitch Frankel, for his part, believes the treatment helped Colon's resurgence, but wasn't the major part of it.

“The doctor feels that it definitely gave him a jump start to his improvement, although for me, personally, I don’t think Bartolo was focused on baseball mentally or physically for the last few years,” Frankel said. “I believe the problem was that and not his pitching. And I think once he made that determination, you can see the success.”

Up next could be a scientific study, because even with Colon's success, there isn't much information that can be extropolated from the procedure to date.

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Category: MLB

Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 10, 2011 2:06 pm

Colon owes resurgence to stem-cell treatment

Predominantly exceptional website. Im really search down the track towards wanting in a bit more threads.

Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 6, 2011 11:58 am

Colon owes resurgence to stem-cell treatment

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Since: Jan 1, 2007
Posted on: May 12, 2011 4:28 pm

Colon owes resurgence to stem-cell treatment

Yea people need to read. Anyone thinking this involves embronic stem cells needs to get off the looney bin computer or get some reading comprehension. Unless Colon has an embryo growing inside of him... ok, that is debatable, it was his stem cells from his own marrow.

Both bone marrow and fatty tissue (and there certainly was plenty of the latter for Colon) were taken out of his hip...
Not that hard to read people.

Since: Sep 7, 2006
Posted on: May 12, 2011 4:23 pm



Since: Dec 10, 2010
Posted on: May 12, 2011 4:17 pm

Colon owes resurgence to stem-cell treatment

Have not read all comments, but how is this not up for discussion regarding PEDs and such?!

The basic premise that an athlete was not able to perform at a high level, then put something in his body to reach that level again is similar enough a description to be discussed.  You can have all the arguements you'd like about drugs vs cells / medical treatment, etc.  Just saying this is not completely black & white for at least myself in this regard and should not be so easily accepted. 

Since: Aug 19, 2006
Posted on: May 12, 2011 2:38 pm

Colon owes resurgence to stem-cell treatment

Prior to the procedure, the doctors received approval from MLB owners, lawyers and doctors before moving forward. 

Then why is this a story for CBS?   Maybe a sports medicine journal discussing the pros and cons of the procedure, but outside of the renaissance of a washed up pitcher, this is a non story.  If I remember right, Andre Johnson of the Texans had this plasma-somethingaruther procedure done on his injured ankle and no one int the NFL cared.  If the procedure is legal (opposite of players injecting roids in the bathroom) and the league knew about it, then this is a non story.

As an aside, the author is missing a comma in his statement.  

No, he's not. Journalists don't use the "Oxford comma" between the second-to-last item in a series and the conjunction. It's right there in the stylebooks. For someone making such grand statements on what qualifies as a journalistic story, you don't seem to know much about journalistic standards.

Since: Oct 20, 2006
Posted on: May 12, 2011 2:30 pm

Colon owes resurgence to stem-cell treatment

I would think that since we can now not only have birth control, but also actually decide if and how we want to have children by the use of science, that the religious traditionists (for lack of a better term) will be smart enough to understand that people have control over whether a child is born or not.   Your God doesn't control this.  People decide if they want to have children.  This isn't 5000 years ago.  We know a lot more about science and biology than we did then, and have the ability to make decisons based on our scientific knowledge.  Yet some people prefer to base their opinions on the writings of evolution-challenged religious "leaders".

Since: Oct 20, 2006
Posted on: May 12, 2011 2:22 pm

Colon owes resurgence to stem-cell treatment

Individual human life being destroyed
An embryonic stem cell is not  an individual human life.

Since: Apr 11, 2007
Posted on: May 12, 2011 1:43 pm

Colon owes resurgence to stem-cell treatment

Spectacular post!

Since: Apr 18, 2011
Posted on: May 12, 2011 1:14 pm
This comment has been removed.

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