NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Major League Baseball is examining a procedure performed on Yankees right-hander Bartolo Colon last year that involved stem cells being injected into his painful shoulder and elbow, according to The New York Times.
Joseph R. Purita, an orthopedic surgeon in Boca Raton, Fla., told the newspaper he flew to Colon’s native Dominican Republic and helped a team of doctors there with the treatment on the 2005 AL Cy Young Award winner. He said he has used Human Growth Hormone in the procedure before, but not in this case with Colon.
HGH is banned by Major League Baseball.
“The Yankees did notify us and we are looking into it,” league spokesman Pat Courtney told the Times for a story posted on its website on Wednesday night.
Purita said he has treated several professional athletes over the years, including players for the White Sox and Rangers, and the NFL’s Ravens and Dolphins, and has never provided any of them with HGH.
“I just won’t give it to these guys,” Purita told the Times. “I don’t need the stigma and that kind of reputation.”
Colon went 21-8 with a 3.48 ERA for the Angels in 2005, but has been hampered by injuries in recent years. He was released by the White Sox in September 2009 after going 3-6 with a 4.19 ERA in 12 starts.
Colon, who turns 38 this month, finalized a minor league deal with the Yankees in February and made the club with a strong spring training. He is 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA in seven games, four starts, moving into the rotation after Phil Hughes went down with an injury.
General manager Brian Cashman told the Times he didn’t know about the treatment in the Dominican Republic when the Yankees signed Colon. He was recently told of the procedure by the pitcher’s agent, and he then notified Major League Baseball.
Purita told the Times he took fat and bone marrow stem cells from Colon and injected them back into his elbow and shoulder.
“This is the future of sports medicine, in particular,” he said. “Here it is that I got a guy back playing baseball and throwing pitches at 95 miles an hour.”
Colon, who speaks little English, replied “I don’t know, I don’t know,” in Spanish when asked about the treatment by the Times.
Purita is proud of Colon’s performance so far this season, but credited the pitcher for bouncing back.
“We gave him the means, but he has the focus and desire, the killer instinct,” Purita told the Times. “He worked his tail off to get back in the game. That is something stem cells cannot fix.”
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