Thursday, May 12, 2011

Bartolo Colon, Stem Cells And A 95 MPH Fastball

I'm fascinated by this story. And for once, it has nothing to do with Bartolo Colon's ability to eat 47 pounds of buffalo wings without having to unhinge his jaw. Instead, Colon has tossed 37.1 innings for the Yankees while putting up a 2.81 xFIP (3.86 ERA for the Sports Center crowd) and has actually looked like the pitcher he used to be seven years ago.

Turns out that Bart used some rather unorthodox surgery to regain his 95 mile per hour fastball as a 37-year-old (albeit on stadium guns, so, let's call it 92 to be safe). Joseph R. Purita would like to take credit for Colon's return to relevance. I don't blame him either because it sounds like this guy is on to something. Here's a blockquote from the NY Times (I hope they don't charge me for this)...
A doctor in Florida would like to take some of the credit. Joseph R. Purita, an orthopedic surgeon who runs a regenerative medicine clinic in Boca Raton, said he and a team of Dominican doctors that he led treated Colon in April 2010. Purita said he employed what he regards as one of his more pioneering techniques: he used fat and bone marrow stem cells from Colon, injecting them back into Colon’s elbow and shoulder to help repair ligament damage and a torn rotator cuff.
See? I told you Dr. Purita wanted some credit. I'm pretty sure this is going to be a big deal down the line. Yanks GM Brian Cashman admitted that he was unaware of this procedure before he signed Colon and immediately contacted MLB once he found out about the situation.

While I doubt MLB can find any kind of violation against Colon's treatment, the doctor in question has used HGH and platelet-rich plasma therapy to treat ligament injuries. Selig will investigate.

Will this new treatment be a new breakthrough in science to keep players healthy or the next thing banned? I'm obviously in favor of any and all of these new developments in science but I'm also fine with steroids and HGH being administered under the supervision of a doctor. I realize that anything "stem cell" related is still a controversial topic so I dug up a clip of Christopher Reeve on Larry King to help shed some light on the subject.

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