Mets pitcher Colon hits 1st homer just shy of 43rd birthday

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SAN DIEGO (AP) New York Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon hit his first career home run Saturday night, a shot that came less than three weeks before his 43rd birthday.

Colon connected for a two-run homer in the second inning off San Diego’s James Shields. The impressive drive hit the lower balcony on the Western Metal Supply Co. brick warehouse in the left-field corner at Petco Park to give the Mets a 4-0 lead.

Colon watched the ball all the way, and didn’t toss his bat until he was well over halfway to first base. The portly pitcher’s trot around the bases took about 30 seconds.

When he returned to the dugout, his teammates were hiding in the tunnel before coming out to mob him.

Colon hasn’t had to worry about his hitting. He won the 2005 AL Cy Young Award while with the Los Angeles Angels, and is a three-time All-Star.

Before his home run, he was a career .089 hitter in 225 at-bats, striking out 119 times. He usually swings hard and his helmet often falls off in the process, frequently drawing cheers and laughs from fans at home and on the road.

At 42 years, 349 days, Colon is the second-oldest Mets player to homer. Julio Franco homered on May 4, 2007, when he was 48 years, 254 days old.

Colon’s major league debut was April 4, 1997, in a no-decision for Cleveland against the Angels. Franco was his teammate. The opposing manager was Terry Collins, now in his sixth season as the Mets manager.

Jeffrey Springs, Rays agree to $31 million, 4-year contract

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Left-hander Jeffrey Springs became the first of the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration salaries with their teams to reach a deal, agreeing Wednesday to a $31 million, four-year contract with the Tampa Bay Rays that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

The 30-year old was among seven Rays who swapped arbitration figures with the team on Jan. 13. He began last season in the bullpen, transitioned to the starting rotation in May and finished 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA in 33 appearances, including 25 starts. He is 14-6 with a 2.70 ERA in 76 outings – 51 of them in relief – since he was acquired from Boston in February 2021.

Springs gets $4 million this year, $5.25 million in 2024 and $10.5 million in each of the following two seasons. Tampa Bay has a $15 million option for 2027 with a $750,000 buyout.

The 2025 and 2026 salaries can escalate by up to $3.75 million each based on innings in 2023-24 combined: $1.5 million for 300, $1 million for 325, $750,000 for 350 and $500,000 for 375. The `25 and ’26 salaries also can escalate based on finish in Cy Young Award voting in `23 and ’24: $2 million for winning, $1.5 million for finishing second through fifth in the voting and $250,000 for finishing sixth through 10th.

Tampa Bay’s option price could escalate based on Cy Young voting in 2025 and 2026: by $2.5 million for winning, $2 million for finishing second through fifth and $500,000 for sixth through 10th.

Springs would get $45.25 million if the option is exercised, $52.75 million with the option and meeting all innings targets and the maximum if he meetings the innings targets and wins two Cy Youngs.

Springs’ ERA last season was the second lowest in franchise history for a pitcher working a minimum of 100 innings. Former Rays ace Blake Snell compiled 1.89 ERA on the way to winning the 2018 AL Cy Young.

In addition to finishing sixth in the AL in ERA, Springs allowed three runs or fewer in 22 of 25 starts and two runs or fewer 17 times. He joined Tampa Bay’s rotation on May 9, gradually increasing his workload over his next six appearances. Springs was 6-3 with a 2.40 ERA in 14 starts after the All-Star break.

Arbitration hearings start next week and the Rays remain with the most players scheduled to appear before three-person panels.

Springs had asked for a raise from $947,500 to $3.55 million and had been offered $2.7 million. Tampa remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam, Pete Fairbanks and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.

Tampa Bay also agreed minor league contacts with catcher Gavin Collins and right-hander Jaime Schultz, who will report to major league spring training.

Infielder Austin Shenton and pitchers Anthony Molina and Joe LaSorsa also were invited to big league spring training.