May 11, 2011, 9:20 PM EDT
It’s not often that a major league pitcher is going to prefer to have arm surgery in the Dominican Republic. It might have been necessary in this case, though.
Bartolo Colon received injections of his own stem cells into his shoulder and elbow to treat a rotator cuff tear and ligament damage in a procedure a year ago, the New York Times reports.
Florida-based doctor Joseph R. Purita said he flew to the Dominican Republic and performed the procedures for free. He added that he has also used human growth hormone in similar procedures, though he didn’t in this case.
MLB is looking into the procedure. The Yankees said they didn’t know about it when they signed Colon to a minor league deal this spring. Colon’s agent only informed the team after learning that the New York Times had contacted Purita and was doing an article. The Yankees then informed the league.
Purita made it clear that his procedures are legal in the United States. He said he uses platelet-rich plasma injections in combination with human growth hormone to treat many ligament injuries and arthritic conditions.
Colon, who didn’t pitch after the procedure last April, has returned to the majors to go 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA in four starts and three relief appearances for the Yankees. If he keeps it up, it’d be his first successful season since he won the Cy Young Award for the Angels in 2005. He went 14-21 with a 5.18 ERA from 2006-09.
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