Pirates take a look at Colon in Dominican

But team not yet seen as suitor for free-agent starter

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The Pirates are one of three teams scouting former Cy Young Award winner Bartolo Colon in the Dominican Republic, but there was no indication yesterday that their interest extended beyond window-shopping.

Colon, 34, is a free agent seeking to regain peak form after two subpar seasons marred by shoulder surgery and elbow trouble. In 2007, he was 6-8 with a 6.34 ERA for the Los Angeles Angels, including 0-6 in 12 starts after June 14. He was limited to 10 starts the previous year, going 1-5 with a 5.11 ERA.

Those figures represented a steep drop from the 21 games he won for the Angels in 2005, the year of his Cy Young. And that is not all that has teams leery of offering a major-league contract to someone who made $14 million last season. By all accounts, Colon has not impressed in the Dominican, his fastball seldom touching 90 mph and his conditioning as questionable as the status of his arm.

Still, teams are looking. The Pirates, Houston Astros and Kansas City Royals had scouts at Colon's most recent start, Wednesday in the Caribbean World Series. Before being chased in the fifth inning, he gave up two runs and five hits, but 44 of his 57 pitches were strikes.

"For two innings, he looked great," one scout said yesterday from the Dominican. "There wasn't much after that, but you're still talking about Bartolo Colon here. This is someone who knows how to pitch."

The Pirates are not known to have engaged in any contract talks with Colon. Other teams, including the Astros and Chicago White Sox, have discussed only minor-league or incentive-laden offers.

NOTES -- Jose Bautista's Dominican winter team, Licey, won the Caribbean World Series last night by beating Aguilas, 8-2, in Santiago, Dominican Republic. Bautista, playing center field, went 1 for 4 with a single, a walk and two runs. He finished the weeklong tournament with a .250 average, two home runs and four RBIs... The Pirates' spring roster, currently at 65, could expand between now and the Thursday reporting date for pitchers and catchers.

Dejan Kovacevic can be reached at dkovacevic@post-gazette.com .


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