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Colon begins Cy Young defense

Colon begins Cy Young defense

With a Cy Young winner in the fold, it wasn't a tough decision as to who would take the ball to open the Angels' season.

Bartolo Colon will be on the hill when the Angels face the Mariners at Safeco Field on Monday. It will mark the third straight year that Colon has made an Opening Day start for the Angels and it will be the sixth of his career. Colon is 4-1 in those starts. One of those starts came on Opening Night in 2002 as a member of the Indians when he shut out the Angels.

The biggest question facing Colon this offseason was a strained right shoulder that forced him off the mound in the second inning of Game 5 in the ALDS against the Yankees last October. But an offseason program allowed Colon to rehab the shoulder, and he reported to Spring Training healthy.

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But Colon admitted he remained unsure until he was able to let it go.

"In the back of my mind, I think about the shoulder, not because it hurts, but because I have to be conscious of it," Colon said through an interpreter.

There were no questions about his season in 2005.

He established a career high in wins and won 20 games for the first time with one team. Colon had posted a 20-win season once before in his career, but that was split between Cleveland and Montreal, for whom he won 10 games each. His previous high was an 18-5 mark in 1999 with the Indians, matched in wins when he went 18-12 in 2004, his first year with the Angels.

Colon also proved he was the staff ace all season and was equally effective in the first half of the season as the second half. He posted an 11-5 record with a 3.42 ERA before the All-Star break and a 10-3 with a 3.55 ERA mark after the break.

The 32-year-old went 11-2 after an Angels loss and was at his best in August, when he posted a 5-0 record with a 1.72 ERA in six starts. Colon secured his candidacy for the Cy Young when he outdueled Jon Garland in Chicago on Sept. 10 for his 19th win of the year.

Colon represented the Dominican Republic in the inaugural World Baseball Classic this March, when he made three starts and posted a 0.64 ERA over 14 innings. Colon tossed six scoreless innings in the semifinal against Cuba, but the Dominican Republic was eliminated when Cuba rallied to win, 3-1.

This spring, Colon made one official Cactus League start as he got the bulk of his work in the Classic and in selected Minor League games. Colon said his biggest concern was simply ensuring his arm would be in shape for the regular season.

"I focus on location," Colon said of his spring work. "I have plenty in the tank. I have not focused on velocity, but I'll be able to air it out once games start."

His readiness assured, the choice was academic.

"Any time you can put the Cy Young winner on the mound, you're should be in good shape," manager Mike Scioscia said.

  Angels probable lineup
 Pos.Name
1.3BChone Figgins
2.SSOrlando Cabrera
3.RFVladimir Guerrero
4.LFGarret Anderson
5.DHJuan Rivera
6.CFDarin Erstad
7.1BCasey Kotchman
8.CJose Molina
9.2BAdam Kennedy
PBartolo Colon

Pitching matchup
LAA: RHP Bartolo Colon
• 21-8, 3.48 ERA in 2005
• 2-1, 4.74 in 2005 vs. SEA
• 9-8, 4.60 career vs. SEA

SEA: LHP Jamie Moyer
• 13-7, 4.28 ERA in 2005
• 2-1, 6.53 in 2005 vs. LAA
• 18-14, 4.85 career vs. LAA

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• LAA: FSN West
• SEA: FSN Northwest

On radio
• LAA: KSPN 710 AM; KTNQ 1020 AM (Español)
• SEA: KOMO 1000 AM

Roof
The forecast calls for a rainy Monday in Seattle. If the skies do open, then the roof will be closed. If not, it will be open.

On deck
• Tuesday: Angels at Mariners, 7:05 p.m. PT
• Wednesday: Angels at Mariners, 3:35 p.m. PT
• Thursday: off

Mike Scarr is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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